WRITING THROUGH FENCES IS EXCITED TO LAUNCH THIS BEAUTIFUL BOOK OF POETRY AND ART:
THE STRONG SUNFLOWER
for more about The Strong Sunflower visit:
for more about The Strong Sunflower visit:
Welcome to our March 2018 blog (yes we have got it up a bit late!).
Here we are focusing on the work of two women, artist Miream Salameh and poet Hani Abdile. You will find short videos of Miream and Hani’s work, links to their websites, an interview with accompanying art work by Mieram and a written piece by Hani.
The following is taken from Miream Salameh’s website: http://mireamssl.wixsite.com/mireamsalameh
Born in Homs, Syria
Lives in Melbourne, Australia since 2013
She is a Syrian Sculptor and Painter, She bears between the folds of her soul love to a homeland of deep-rooted civilisation ….to a homeland called the country of Jasmine… She was forced to leave it with just the words (I don’t want to leave my mother’s womb… and I don’t want to die in it).
This attitude can be felt through all her artworks, which embodies women’s freedom and the suffering of people being crucified for loving life and liberty.
Clay…wood…stone … and fingers made of music in labor sculpting the mirror of her depth.
‘It’s illegal to decide someone’s freedom—to put these people there with no charge, no reason, keeping them for years. It’s destroying lives’.
Hani Abdile is a writer, spoken word poet and budding photographer from Somalia. She made her way to Australia by boat and was detained on Christmas Island. While detained, Hani found healing in writing poetry. She is an honorary member of PEN, co-facilitator of Writing Through Fences. Hani has received numerous awards for her community work and writing. Her first book ‘I Will Rise’ was published by Writing Through Fences in 2016 to critical acclaim. You can purchase it from our shop on this website.
Visit Hani’s website here : https://abdilehani.wordpress.com/
Brush off the dust
Do we often forget to love ourselves and care for ourselves? Or is it that we get dispirited when other people say we can’t do something?
For the past few years I have become a poetry addict and I have realized that I find love and joy within myself. Even though most of the time I wrote to give a voice to people that struggle on a daily basis, I also wrote for my soul because my soul seeks unity and an acceptance of love within my body.
As a young woman, I had my own challenges; I know your story might have the same start but definitely a different ending. There were times I thought my new home, a home that is safe, would never come. On this journey I often try to understand why women, despite what part of the world we are born, find putting ourselves first hard to do and we bear the demeaning responsibilities. My eyes have seen so many abuses swept under the rug. This mixture of feelings results in a culture of threat, as these feelings get stronger they turn into anxiety, and we see ourselves as worthless because the past is haunting us.
But whenever that happens, you have to take a second and say: ‘My past is a page of my history. The present is what I need to deal with and the future is yet to come’. As Maya Angelou said, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”. We all have that untold story that we conceal, we all have that untold story that takes us onto a dusty road, we all have that untold story that blurs our vision, and we all have that untold story with wounds that are yet to heal. But at the end of the day we just have to wake up and brush off the dust.
Personally, life has been bitter sweet for me. When these days of dizziness and confusion arrive I try to step out of it, be myself and keep writing because the more I write poetry and tell my story and the story of my sisters, I feel relief. Take note and just tell yourself you are the foundation of power and only the sky is the limit.
As females in general, we sometimes forget to love ourselves, to cherish ourselves, to empower each other and say to ourselves “If Ellen DeGeneres can rise up from all the bullying then we can do it, If Oprah Winfrey didn’t listen to her haters and doubters then we also can do it, if Maya Angelou didn’t stop shooting out her words, we can too”.
I often feel I find a voice and love for myself within poetry. Other powerful female poets around me might agree. I am not saying it’s only poetry that brings love and happiness but anything you do, for work or a hobby, can bring that little sparkle of love towards you.
This is a poem that I thought would inspire the young women of the next generation:
I know sometimes life sucks
It makes you down
But remember it’s a test of your patience
You must know life is a session of lessons,
Which must be lived in to be understood.
Please, please, please
Don’t forget your inner quality
You’re kind and hilarious
You are beautiful and unique
You are the best creation of God
You’re worthy and made of self-motivation
You’re the beginning of love and affection
You’re precious and a diamond of two parents.
You’re an example of many amazing people
You have been a positive soul that gives hope to others
And when you feel pain you’re allowed to cry loud
You can’t be the person of the light all the time
Even though I know you’re soft and smooth like the clouds
I want to take you out in the rain
So you can wash out all your failures
Because every success comes after you fail and pain.
Think of it this way,
You now have a chance to be better everyday
You now have a chance to understand more about you
About people around you and the whole world
So be wise and highlight your mistakes
And those who pretty much take themselves too high.
Reject them and be true to yourself.
I want be by your side through the excitement and desperation of life
I want to offer you a love as a fundamental act of self compassion
I want to offer you a lamp that will Light up your future.
You’re not that bad at all.
You’re actually really good.
And I’m sorry if I ever made you look bad and weak.
Look at your reflection in the mirror
Notice all the mistakes,
Smile and say,
This too shall pass.
After all you will remember you’re my only darling self
And I will be always here for you.
(Free Poetry at CASPA Castlemaine)
In this our second blog post for 2018 we remember Reza Barati’s life. And we remember his murder 4 years ago in the Manus Prison.
Boush writes of his five years in Indonesia, Kazem sends a poem of love and loss from Manus, longing for home is powerfully written by Maria in ‘A message from sweet home (Somalia) to a sweet girl’, Samad’s latest publication in the AIMN speaks from the final days in the Lombrum prison and Ali Ataei writes a farewell tribute to others on Nauru.
And we are pleased to support the new blog by writers in Indonesia https://refugeenewsindonesia.com/ Please follow this and share.
REMEMBERING REZA BARATI
You just leave, you are gone
When the dark day will finish
When the sun’s rising again
When the mouths open to breath
We will sings your songs
You just leave, you are gone.
Our Mothers, a poem for Reza
My mother, Reza’s mother and Fazel’s mother are crying together
I heard the Seymareh river crying with them.
Beneath Fazel’s village is Sirwan, one of the most ancient and significant cities int he world.
The city of Sirwan.
Mothers cry upon the oldest city, cry for Reza and Fazel.
I heard all the beautiful mountains in Kurdistan are crying. All of Sirwan is crying. Mountain, rivers, wild flowers … all crying.
All of Sirwan is crying, all separated from their mothers.
I hear the most ancient of chants, I hear the mothers chanting in the city of Ilam, in the city of Sirwan, all throughout Kurdistan.
I hear their cries from inside Manus prison. hear the most ancient of songs, chanted by mothers. This form of chant is called Mour.
Mour is the oldest of songs, a song the Kurdish mothers chant for their boys and warriors who lose their lives fighting against enemies that attack the land of Kurdistan. It is a song for brave sons.
Fazel and Reza were brave sons. They fought for their lives.
When I was in Kurdistan, I climbed up the highest mountain on many occasions. The oldest chestnut oak trees reside up there. I hear the chestnut oaks crying too. My heart is extremely heavy, as I heard the deepest and most sorrowful Mour chanted by my mother today.
I have never heard a Mour like this, a choir of Mours, Reza’s, Fazel’s and my mother chanting.
This is Kurdish culture. We are born by song, live by song, fight by song, and die by song.
I feel the deepest sorrow because of Fazel’s death, because of and Reza’s death.
He deserves the deepest Mour to be sung for him.
My heart is heavy because I am crying and listening to a Mour sung for my best friend, sung in a prison on the remotest island in the world.
I never thought I would hear Mour sung for the bravest of Kurdish sons out on a remote island, out in the middle of a massive, silent ocean.
I always think about the Mour my mother will chant for me when I die.
I thought that song would be sung for me in beautiful Kurdistan.
I am sure Reza and Fazel had this thought just like me, but their lives were taken in a remote place, not in Kurdistan.
They lost their lives because of injustice.
They lost their lives in a foreign land.
Who was there when their lives were taken?
My mother, Reza’s mother, and Fazel’s mother,
all together, all mourning, all chanting, the deepest Mour.
Five Years of My Life
Five years of my life, trying to get my hands free of chains.
Everyday wake in the morning willing this day has come with action,
but no reaction.
Five years wake up in the morning, the news fabricated and lies.
Receiving yesterday’s news today.
Five years of my life in detention means fifty years for my mother.
Thinking: if your mother has the same heart as mine does..?
(Have you ever realised how your mother felt when she could not see you for five days?)
Stop the secret killing!
You already killed me and killed thousands with me.
You have broken my mother’s heart with thousands of mother’s hearts.
If tears can be a water, our mothers’ tears could make oceans.
And if hatred can do something, I have too much from seeing your uniform in front of my cell everyday.
I came with a great big hill of hope but today my ambition is just to breathe free as you do.
I’m not fearing death but let me see that smile on my mother.
And let your mother get that smile too.
A message from sweet home (Somalia) to an unknown sweet girl.
I am just wondering where you live now?
You disappeared without saying goodbye.
You used to tell me I was the only place you had on the earth.
Where is that patriotic, brave girl who used to say:
‘I will protect my homeland from anything bad”?
What has happened to her?
Where did she go?
OH SWEET GIRL
You were born inside of me.
Why did you leave me like this?
Have you forgotten my warm nights and bright breezy days?
Have you forgotten lying on my sand with a big beautiful smile on your face
Oh my dear… unforgettable moments!
You were fearless, a strong and beautiful child
playing around with self confidence.
Sweet girl we call to you.
Home is the only place you will be loved and respected.
COME HOME GIRL,
Cold feeling of unreal sin
Is suffering me. I cannot talk
‘Cause this’ not a logical world
You have given me an unreal sin.
You set me on the fire of your anger-
It’s probably better that its fallen apart.
I want to talk although the love’s gone
I want to talk despite the ruin done.
The twilight space between us
Is giving me a stifling feeling
My pulse is getting weak, you know?
You judged me ’cause of no sin.
I don’t deserve to bear the pain
No darling, no, not accused of betrayal
I don’t deserve to bear the pain
The moment’s gone ’cause of you.
I know the love is beyond help
Darling? Your verdict is irresistible.
I want to talk although the love’s gone
I want to talk despite the ruin done.
(image by Boush)
My Best Friend
That’s such a moment of blessing when you are with your best friend but that’s such a horrible moment when friends get separated forever.
Being detained without any guilt in Manus prison camp where each day is equal to a month, every month is equal to a year and each year is equal to a century but we are still trying to get our rights and justice.
I was brought here by force. At that time I needed some one to talk with, to share my pain, to laugh, but it was impossible to find a friend in a place where everything is against the system, where everything is against the law, where giving torture and stress to us was the job of those who conceived this prison and work here.
The beginning of detention will remain one of the toughest and most painful times forever and I’ll not be able to forget such cruelty.
I was expecting such a great humanity and kindness in all white people as I was inspired from white people by the media. But not all white people are kind, some are worst.
When I stepped in to Christmas Island I was so happy and I was looking at the sky and telling myself, I’m a free person now and I will find my happiness in this land and no one will stop me from fulfilling my dreams.
I was thrown in a hole, my dreams were taken. I was abused, disrespected and tortured but according to the system they were doing a great job.
In that tough situation where I was separated from my happiness and my dreams finally I found a best friend in my diary. My diary was my only friend with who I could share my pain.
I was always writing my pain, suffering and struggle and it gave to me some lovely time as I kept myself busy in a place where there wasn’t any activity to do.
After dinner, coming to my bed and writing about my feelings and pain, my good experiences and bad experiences was one of the greatest times and it always made me so positive, motivated me. I dreamed I would read my diary every night once I had succeeded in my dreams but this too, another dream, was destroyed.
The day when we were attacked and removed by force to another prison camp, they entered my room and abused me both physically and verbally and destroyed my everything.
My diary, my books, my clothes have been destroyed. I couldn’t protect my diary.
The moment is such a painful moment. It is the worst moment when everything is going wrong but you are not able protect or fight back for your rights.
I cried and begged them please not to destroy my diary but their only response was to abuse us as they were trained by the people who are having fun in Australian parliament house and are very happy to torture innocent lives.
To all my dear friends in Nauru ❤
I would like to thank each and everyone I know or met in Nauru, for letting me in their life and made me a part of it. There is no word to describe how beautiful, amazing, astonishing, marvellous and strong people you are and how lucky I am to know you all.
Regardless of what was going on in that period of time, I was always surrounded with your love and support. Undoubtedly, I couldn’t make it through, if I didn’t have you guys on my side and your beautiful souls to inspire me everyday.
You guys taught me resilience, courage and endeavour, which I would be grateful for the rest of my life.
We have made countless unforgettable memories in this island which make us to feel much closer than ever.
I am very blessed and proud that I have met you all and I can’t wait to see you all in USA.
Much love and respect
‘’The darkest hour is just before the dawn. ‘’ Thomas Fuller
Refugee Radio at 3CR features the work of people who have been forced to flee their homelands.
Farhad Bandesh is a musician, instrument maker, poet and artist. Farhad is Kurdish and is currently incarcerated in Australia’s immigration prison on Manus Island.
Listen to some of Farhad’s collaborations here:
Anna Liebzeit and Farhad Bandesh: Far from Home
Moz is a musician who plays guitar, sings and raps. He is from Kurdistan and is currently incarcerated in Australia’s Immigration Prison on Manus Island.
It’s Moz from Manus Island detention center.
The reason that I’ve created this song is to bring attention to our plight. We have been left in a political limbo for four years now. The conditions are hellish and how they treat us is deplorable. I hope that people who are listening to my song will understand our desperation, frustration, and fear.
Here is the song
Here you can read more and download the song ‘Our Humanity’, video footage was shot by Farhad Bandesh.
‘Our Humanity’ was shown at Queensland Poetry Festival 2017 as part of the Writing Through Fences collaboration.
(image still Rodney Decker)
Hani Abdile is a poet who performs around Sydney and is the Sydney faciliatator of Writing Through Fences. Her book I Will Rise is available through our SHOP here.
Hani was detained in Christmas Island for 19 months and is now in community.
I used to think I am alone
and hold myself back.
Scared to express my feelings
and make my life a mess,
I sat silently
and agreed with my thoughts.
I forgot I had a chance.
They pushed me back
and broke my heart.
I stood for nothing
but a waste of number.
They held me down
but I got up.
I am ready to brush off the dust.
Here I am.
You will hear my voice,
that is my sound.
Now I am flying like a bird.
You can see me
diving up so high.
I fight for my rights
and go from zero to hero.
They locked me in
but I got out.
I am ready to brush off the dust.
Here I am a Somali girl.
I am not a waste of number.
I am not a victim.
I am a hero
and I am a leader.
– Hani Abdile 2015
Oooh old friends
My beloved friend
We chased each other
But that wasn’t my favourite
We rolled in the mud
So thick, double to our skin
Danced in the rain
As we thought we could bless the land.
We re-owned our lost childhood
Your smiles fully healed my wounds
So shiny and sharp.
I was addicted to your company
I felt disgrace to leave you behind
But my friend you have chosen the traditional way.
Seeing your photos my perfect friend —
Life always takes unexpected turns
You dive into abuse and rise like a sun
Blessed to be a mother of two
My ship has sailed on unknown shores
While yours still floats on the garden of your birth.
thanks to Carita for helping out.
Ramala’s tongue was tied to her throat. Her heart beat like a speeding train. Sweat ran like waterfalls within the creases of her body. She stared at the path in front of her that looked like a tunnel. Unfamiliar darkness choked her. This was the place her real parents called home. Parents. That word seemed so strange to her it caught in her mouth and evaporated like a drop of rain on a desert plain.
It was her summer break and Ramala had finally made her journey to her beloved home. All her life from her luxurious bed in Miami she dreamed of a quiet village that smells like grounded cardamom and dry earth, filled with the laugher of children. The image wrapped her with a sense of safety, but it was not real. She created it through Internet searchers and memories of others.
She called herself “take away” because 20 years ago Ramla was found by an NGO in an orphanage and adopted by an American couple at the age of three. She had learned about her country’s traumatic history in a high school classroom, which ripped her from her middle-class life and forced her into this significant and life-changing journey.
Now at 23 she stood in front of the burning heat stared at the left over of her family. Small hut crumbled into the earth. Rotted defeated and abandoned. “Home was mouth of a shark”. The whole village had run away.
SYDNEY WRITERS FESTIVAL
Writing Through Fences – Sydney Writers’ Festival 2017 @ Sydney Dance 1
Event Date: Thursday 25 May 2017
Starting at 11:30 AM
Place:Sydney Dance 1
‘Go beyond the political rhetoric of detention centres and ‘boat people’ and learn more about the real life adventures of people who now call Australia home. Featuring three performances and a discussion from those who have first-hand experience of seeking asylum in Australia; Hani Abdile, Kaveh Arya, Amjad Hussain and moderator Eunice Andrada, will share powerful stories and poems told with passion and vulnerability’ – Word Travels.
Hani Abdille (and others) will also be appearing at the Sydney Writers Festival as part of Transforming My Country and They Cannot Take the Sky: Stories From Detention.
Hani Abdile is a writer and spoken word poet who fled the civil war in Somalia. She made her way to Australia by boat and spent 11 months on Christmas Island. While detained, Hani found healing in writing poetry. She is an honorary member of PEN, a lead writer for the Writing Through Fences group, and has received numerous awards for her community work and many achievements since being released from immigration detention. Her first book I Will Rise was published in 2016 to critical acclaim.
WRITING THROUGH FENCES
TRANSFORMING MY COUNTRY
THEY CANNOT TAKE THE SKY: STORIES FROM DETENTION
Imran Mohammad won the 2017 Amnesty International blog competition. He is an astonishing young writer who has been imprisoned in Australia’s prison camp in Manus Province PNG for almost 4 years now. You can find his work published in the Age, on the Amnesty website and as part of Writing Through Fences publications. His booklet detailing life in the prison camp is to be launched in the next months. Here we feature Imran’s latest blog. Please read on.
Rahman is from Bangladesh and has been incarcerated on Manus Island detention prison for 3 years. He has written his memoir of that time.
WHY NOT OUR LIFE
(image via firstname.lastname@example.org)
Yesterday I went to play soccer. After we finished we took some rest. The security officer told us: ‘Everyone go back to the compound’. I told him “I am waiting for the moon’. He said, ‘There is the moon, you can see, look up’. I saw the moon it was very big, looked beautiful. I looked and smiled at the moon and I asked the moon, ‘You light over the world so brightly. Why not our life? How long will we live in this darkness?’ The moon smiled at me and said, ‘Wait patiently please! I look around the world then I come to you’.
But still I don’t know how long it will take.
I feel restless.
image by scrapper9000
Sometimes nature breaks down into a hundred thousand pieces
when she sees our sorrow.
But no-one realises this.
When security gives us trouble we wait patiently and look at the sky,
for nature to gives us inspiration and sympathy for our lives.
Peace is hiding from us.
There is too much distance between peace and where we are.
Youth is like summer flowers.
Suddenly it withers away.
A LONG AND DUSTY ROAD
Here is the work of a man who was incarcerated on Manus for 2 years. He returned under pressure to his country of origin only to have to flee again. We have kept in contact and he remains part of Writing Through Fences. Here is some of his story.
image from hemantsoreng.com
I and a dusty road and a cloudy sky.
I and a long dusty road and a dark cloudy sky.
I and a dusty road, nobody knows where is it’s end.
I and a cloudy sky, nobody knows whether it will get rainy or not.
I and a dusty road, nobody knows how long it takes to get to the end of it.
I and a cloudy sky, nobody knows when it will be stormy or what will happen
to me and dusty road.
Maybe we will get green, maybe we will get puddle.
I and a dusty road, nobody knows whether I can get to the end of it or not.
Maybe we will become friends,
maybe we will finally part.
I am not a poet but these poems sometimes come to my mind and I can write them. Not really my mind, they come from my heart.
Thinking about my destination… I came from other side of the world and I came through many countries to get to your country and I couldn’t. They banished me to PNG, to that prison camp – worse than prison camp. I went back to my country and had to run away again, to cross many countries again. I climbed mountains, walked so far, was packed like sheep in a container for 12 hours, took taxi’s, walked so far, slept on streets in freezing rain, boats, camps, sleeping on the wet ground, sometimes in tents, much – too much walking, travelled on buses, walked so far, waited for long times stuck on bridges.
Some days we just had 2 pieces of bread. I lost too much weight.
When I ran away I was not thinking where I would go. I just had to run away. Now. Run. During 3 years, since I first ran away, and then this second time, I crossed more than 15 countries.
Somedays, yes I get depressed because when I think about future, what will happen… I am not young and I don’t have time for another journey – and I am a little bit tired now!
I know this country can accept me but do they want to or not? They can, but will they?
Sometimes I think my life has been wasted. On the other side I say to myself: Hey boy, you are trying to help yourself and many people don’t have the opportunity you have.
I have faced many kinds of people in my life. Here, I find that people are kind. They look at you with open face. Maybe they will accept me. Maybe this big sky will make a storm again and I will have to stay friends with long dusty road. Nobody knows if I can get to a destination or not. I don’t know the answer. I hope that someone will help me solve these problems, that they will accept me and I can stay here in a peaceful place and let go of that dusty road.
MESSAGE TO THE AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC
FROM RECENTLY ‘RETURNED’ ASYLUM SEEKER INCARCERATED ON MANUS ISLAND RPC aka ‘TORTURING CENTER’:
4th of September 2014
Seventy One per cent of australian people disagree with boat trip because their media told them they are not immigrants. Abbott said: ‘I want and I can stop the boat’ and those people became happy and gave him their votes. After a few months, high court said offshore processing center is legal.
People of australia be aware during that time – I mean after 2013 July 19 till now 2014 September 5 – many innocent people on offshore processing center getting mental illnesses, a variety of funguses and other skin problems. Even in one conflict – which G4S and your immigration department organised before-hand – they killed one young asylum seeker, Reza Barati. About two hundred people were injured – their damage serious, some people are missing parts of their bodies and some people dissappeared but and no one ever took responsibility about that.
NOW AN OTHER YOUNG ASYLUM SEEKER [ HAMID KHAZI ] IS DEAD BECAUSE OF INFECTION IN HIS BLOOD and it’s reason is lack of health on the torturing center that you and your high court gave vote to. How many people must lose their life till you change your idea and allow them to come to Australia?
People of australia be knows and be aware that your government abuse those people and they don’t care whether those asylum seekers are alive or not.
At least you australian people care about those innocent asylum seeker. THEY ARE HUMAN’ LIKE YOU.
WE ARE HUMAN LIKE YOU. WE NEED FRESH AIR LIKE YOU. WE NEED BREATH LIKE YOU. WE NEED LIFE LIKE YOU. WE NEED FREEDOM LIKE YOU.