N.M. Shami has taken a very long road in order to have her unique writing voice heard. Born in New Jersey, yet with family roots in Syria and thousands of miles under her feet, her heart bleeds for her family and friends in Syria. She writes deep and emotive poetry and always, she keeps an eye on the events unfolding in the war-torn Syrian region. She lends her voice to those who sometimes do not feel heard, and helps to raise awareness for the plight of Syrian refugees. The Guy Society stole a few moments of her time to learn more about her and the causes she champions.
The Guy Society: When did you first start writing?
N. M. Shami: I’ve always loved to write. I found I knew how to express myself better on paper. In high school I began to write and keep a journal, but i discarded those soon after. I thought they were futile attempts. Last year, my mother inspired me to start writing again and I couldn’t be happier that I did.
The Guy Society: You mentioned that you are from Syria, when did you immigrate and what was the exact catalyst? I read somewhere that you try to help Syrian refugees who have been displaced by the war in the region, can you tell me a bit about that? Also, though your mother inspired you to write again what motivated you to put it out there?
N. M. Shami: Yes, I’m Syrian. Actually Syrian American. I was born in New Jersey and lived there until 8 years of age. My family then moved back to Syria. When the crisis in Syria began, I was already attending university in Lebanon. I spend the majority of my spare time trying to spread awareness and raise funds to help Syrian refugees. I have done several things to help including spearheading student involvement and volunteer work for the American University of Beirut’s Syrian Refugee Project. When I began writing again I decided to take a moment to listen to public opinion, I saw that people seemed to like what I was expressing.
The Guy Society: How many pieces have you written?
N. M. Shami: I actually don’t keep track of exactly how many pieces. Many of the things I write stay in my notebook, un-numbered. But i would say there’s a minimum of 250 pieces and maybe the outline of a novel. Maybe.
The Guy Society: What inspires you the most?
N. M. Shami: My family. And finding beauty in the most simple of things.
The Guy Society: I read you have a book coming out, can you tell me a bit about that?
N. M. Shami: Yes! The title is “Un-Ordered” and it was released recently. The cover art and interior artwork was done especially for the book by a Syrian colleague, Raghad Hammour. Half of the proceeds will be going to help the Syrian refugees via UNHCR. The book in itself is essentially my thoughts on paper as they come, in no specific order. Some thoughts are short, others long, and overall, I hope they paint pictures and feelings that others can relate to.
The Guy Society: How did that come about?
N. M. Shami: I knew I had nothing to lose and much to gain by getting my voice out there. Now, my words are being heard and hopefully the awareness I raise will make a difference for many.
The Guy Society: You have a nice social media presence, how crucial is that to your success and motivation?
N. M. Shami: Social media has opened up doors for so many people, and has made this a reality. It plays a major part in both my success as it allows me to reach out to more and more people, and my motivation as the more people I reach, the more awareness I bring to a situation so dear to my heart.
The Guy Society: What is next for you?
N. M. Shami: Next, passing my medical school finals in June! Hopefully in the summer I can start on my next large writing project!
The Guy Society: Well it has certainly been a pleasure. I think we will see many great things for you in the future. Thank you for sitting down with me today and discussing a project so very worthwhile.
N. M. Shami: Thanks for providing me with this opportunity, Nicholas! I truly appreciate it.