#26 2018

In a place where memories are not cherished

I am in a place where memories are not cherished / I sprout in the dark / I germinate badly / I own a tear-stained vision / Poisonous enough to wound you with my words.

Rasha Alqasim, exile writer from Iraq, writes a furious, desperate poem about displacement and its aftermath  


“He wished he could have said something. His throat is so dry it feels he has been choked to death, but the eyes are still alive. He shook.”

In the ice

“Between your experiences of living both in your homeland and your host country, you experience psychological and existential difficulties, so when do you have the peace of mind to conform?”

Dancing like girls

“Don’t dance like a girl / I will dance / Don’t move like a girl / I will move”

The Walls of Stockholm

“My name is carved into all the trees / and scribbled on all the buses / despite how I cannot write a single word… ”

Kurds have only their weddings

“Everyone joins in the fun until the singer switches to a loud lament about the massacre in Halabjano one can understand the sudden change—and soon the bride is in tears and the groom too and grief overtakes the whole audience

In Saudi Arabia, the Prince has no Clothes

His capricious and absolutist decisions will only lead to disaster. But the only choice we have is to applaud him, emigrate, or be jailed—and in the worst case, have our throats slashed.”

I write to the one I love

“I challenge myself: write, your heart is yours regardless of your mother tongue or the tyrant’s language. Rapidly I transform into a brave lover—exactly, I will write to my dearest.”

I am a man and my name is Wissam

When signs of femininity started showing on my body I was keen to hide them. Not even my own family accepted me.”

The House in Manbij

“I come from Manbij a city that just like all other Syrian cities has suffered bombings, death, liberation, and where kings of all forms and colours have passed through.”

Words Widen our World

When the Arab Spring started in Tunisia in 2011 and rapidly spread to the rest of the Arab world many of us saw this as yet another sign that democracy was conquering the world.
We were used to this idea. We recognized the pattern.
Heavy authoritarian states may seem impenetrable as if they could remain intact for ever, but under the surface there is always an on-going movement among the people; there are processes underway, meetings, talks, and debates that will eventually overthrow any dictatorship or oppressive system.
We saw it in the former Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe in 1989. We saw it in Latin America during the 90s and we thought it was happening in the Arab world around the turn of the century.
Today we know that the development towards democracy does not follow a set course. In one country after another in the Arab world, in the aftermath of the peaceful revolutions, which for a while seemed to open up for democracy in these regions, repression has returned.
And in the past few years the same tendency of repression has escalated in several other countries such as in Cambodia, Hungary, Poland, and Russia; the freedom of speech cannot be taken for granted. Those in power are shortening the leash, forcing journalists, writers, and other intellectuals to adhere to the political norms that the regimes dictate. Those who refuse, those who still insist that free and critical thought and speech have a right to exist, are harassed, imprisoned, forced into exile, or even killed.
Repression in the Arab world is thus just one more example of this tendency.