Shibla BetShmuel was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1995, and lived there until he was 11 years old. After the war of 2003, and specifically in 2006, his family moved to the north of Iraq, to Duhok (Nohadra), due to the deteriorated security situation in Baghdad. In Duhok, Shibla discovered his passion for poetry and language, with his first poem written in 2011 at the age of 16 with the title of (Qala Gneeza: An Unknown Voice).

He finished high school in Duhok and was accepted into Nawroz University, where he completed his Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature. During this time, Shibla wrote poetry, prose, and short stories. He also created a deeper connection to his village, Beth Bedeh (Bebedeh)—his roots and identity—where he spent all his summers with family, friends, and the mountains.

A major turning point in Shibla’s life was his first trip to the United States of America in 2010, after which many trips followed. The U.S. changed his perspective of life and poetry, which sparked new ideas and created new poems.

After graduating college in 2019, Shibla moved to the U.S. and decided to further expand his education. He is currently a graduate student at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago seeking to get his Master of Arts in English Literature and is writing his thesis on Modern Assyrian Poetry. His graduate studies, his intermingling with different people, and exposure to English literary and academic works of great modernist poets like T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, E. E. Cummings, Gibran Khalil Gibran, and many more, prompted his adoption of a new style of writing the Assyrian poem; a few of these poems are included in his book Riqda D Qalama (The Pen Dance).

Shibla is a member of the Chaldo-Assyrian Student and Youth Union, and was an active member co-running the Office of Student Affairs of Duhok (Nohadra) Branch. The Office advocated for the rights and interests of Assyrian students in the universities and community colleges of Duhok. Shibla is currently a member of The Authors Guild in America, which recognizes, supports, and advocates for writers across the country. He is also a member of BET KANU’s language committee, whose mission is to spread and advance the Syriac language—both Surit and Surayt dialects—by creating products to expose the children to our language.

In addition to his advocacy work, Shibla is an accomplished poet who writes in three languages: Syriac (Assyrian), Arabic, and English, and has published videos of his work on YouTube. He participated in a competition organized by Christian Aid Program-Nohadra, Iraq (CAPNI), where he won the poetry genre with his poem (Khdara Bar Khayeh: In Search for Life) in 2020. His poetry is known for its emotional depth, raw honesty, and realist premises and arguments.

Shibla is an avid supporter of the arts, supporting other Assyrian artists, poets, and musicians, and is constantly seeking out new inspiration for his work. Shibla’s dedication to his Assyrian community, language, and culture, in addition to his art and his personal interests has made him explore his Assyrian identity through his poetry.

Shibla posted videos of his poems on YouTube in the past 5 years; the first was Kepa D'Tokhronye : Rock of memories (2017), Tawdeety Khatta : My New Religion (2020), Hathihi Malikaty : This Is My Queen (in Arabic) (2020), and Dalopa Dimmana : The Bloody Droplet (2021). Shibla is working on publishing his first chapbook, in Assyrian, in the beginning of 2023. In addition, he writes reviews, essays, and articles about books and Assyrian poetry, like his interpretation of the song TARPA by the famous Assyrian singer Ashur Betsargis.

Awards and Recognition

  • Khdarta Bar Khayeh (In Search of Life) won first place in a contest organized by CAPNI in 2020. (Poem Unpublished)