Hajer Abdulsalam was born in a small village in the centre of Saudi Arabia, the middle child in a big family (5 girls and 5 boys). She graduated from King Saud University in Riyadh, following which she married and left for the United States where she lived for the next 18 years.
Abdulsalam wrote very little when she was in the States. The last poem she attempted writing (in Arabic) was in 1990. The poem was about her mother. ‘It froze on my lips because it kind of started wrong. It was about the death of an unborn child. It scared me. Three years later my mother passed away.’ She finished the poem in 2008, after moving to Dubai.
Abdulsalam writes, but most of the time, she hears poems in her head and once she sits down to shape them into written words, they disobey her. ‘My poems are nomads like me: they flee the confines of the white page. Sometimes I manage to tether them. A lot of times, I fail.’