The Voidman was the first book I have ever published. While it first came out in London in 1997, the poems that appeared in it were written in the period between summer of 1992 and summer of 1995.

In the summer of 1992, I had just graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, and I was beginning to wrestle with the fact that, despite my earlier adamant embrace of Islam as my guiding faith, I have somehow, somewhen, lost faith.  It was only through the poems here that I managed to come to terms with this loss, and with the ensuing deep depression.

In September 1994, I returned to my home country, Syria, after more than eight years of continuous absence. Despite graduating with honors and a degree in history, I returned battered, and without any sense of accomplishment. My plan was to visit my parents, then, return to the United States to pursue my graduate studies. But once there, in Syria, in Damascus, in my old room, in my parents' embrace, I found the idea of leaving again impossible. It was the kind of impossible I was not strong enough to face at the time. I surrendered to it, deepening my depression, and giving birth to more poems, some of which ended up here as well.

The order in which the poems are presented is largely chronological, and many of the poems are, in effect, short stories in form of poems. But the stories are not necessarily autobiographical in nature, that is, they don’t relate incidents that actually happened to me. They are simply based on observation and, sometimes, they come as an intellectual exercise in empathy by someone who has always found it to difficult to experience it emotionally. This was a way for me to trick myself into staying connected to others and, therefore, in touch with my own humanity. For those of us who were not born with an inherent capacity for empathy inventing it is necessary. It may not be or feel the same, but it does make a difference. 

Back to the work at hand, even poems that seem to reflect a philosophical point of view (such as: A Social Point of View) are not actually meant to reflect my own thinking on a particular subject, but the thinking of so many educated Arabs and Muslims with whom I came in contact in my life at that time, be it directly or through their published works. In these poems, I was simply exploring what seemed to me as the prevalent mindset among most Arabs and Muslims, one which, naturally, affected my own intellectual growth.

Still, there are certain poems here that do indeed reflect my own feelings and my own thoughts, poems like The Voidman, the title work itself, among other poems that appear earlier in the book. But they are not all confined there, and can be found scattered throughout it.

The poem titled The Heretic found at the homepage of this dedicated website actually appeared on the back-cover of the printed book as the only biographical note about the author.

So, how can the reader differentiate between the different types of poems here? I hope that this note as well as the overall context of each poem and its tone will prove enough guide in this regard. Beyond that, let confusion reign. Since poems, regardless of their subject matter and particular style, are supposed to always reveal something about the poet, I see no point in trying to fuss over the distinction. The poems of The Voidman are supposed to explain me, not vice versa. I trust that they can.

Indeed, for better or worse, I am The Voidman.

Ammar Abdulhamid
May 2016
Silver Spring, Maryland

PS. The Voidman is out-of-print at this stage. But I might reprint it down the road, if there were sufficient interest in that.