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.
This is a space for the voices of writers, artists and commentators who are seeking asylum, or have sought asylum in Australia.
Here you will find: articles, creative writing, visual arts, music recordings, information about our activities, reviews, news.
WELCOME TO THE FIRST BLOG FOR 2018 – FEBRUARY
We are committed to keeping this blog active throughout 2018 with writing, art, music, interviews, news reports, poetry and updates of what our members are doing throughout the year.
Introducing our new WEBSITE ADMINISTRATOR – SAMAD:
Samad has joined Writing Through Fences as our website administrator to work alongside Gary. He will be working from PNG where he has been detained indefinitely for more than 4 years. His job will include updating our website and keeping the blog active with writings, reports, poetry, music, art and other happenings from people who are affected by Australia’s immigration policies.
My name is Samad and I’m from Pakistan. I have been detained illegally for years in a place where it’s so easy for hope and dreams to be demolished. I wasn’t a writer but this place made me a writer. My pain made me a writer. Although I can’t take my dreams from the people who destroyed them I will use my words as a weapon and will not allow them to destroy more dreams.
I completed high school and then went on to do 2 more years of general studies in the Faculty of Science. I also studied some Basic Engineering and attended English classes before I was forced to flee my homeland.
I became interested in writing when I came here to PNG. When there isn’t anyone with me I always write.
My strength is in my hope of building a great image of a great future in my thoughts. I want to study Human Rights and be a social worker / advocate for women and girls rights in my country. My culture denies them their rights.
I have written a short piece about my passion for the rights of women and girls in his country. It is included in this first blog of 2018 and titled: My Dream.
You can also see an article I wrote from Manus published by the Australian Independent Media Network in 2017 here https://theaimn.com/?s=Samad+Abdul+
My dream : writing by Samad Abdul
It might be so normal for lots of people who see a bird to be captured by some one but the way the innocent bird is crying, do we feel the pain?
The society where I lived, has plenty of innocent birds and those beautiful birds are girls, who want support, motivation, positivity, freedom and education but we have failed to give them their fundamental rights.
It’s just normal for the majority of people and unfortunately they are proud of themselves for not allowing girls to have their fundamental rights.
There are still lots of people who believe giving birth to a baby girl is a big shame. How can a girl survive in a society where a boy is allowed to do what ever he wants but a girl is strictly denied?
Since childhood, girls have been told, ‘why would you want to study when you will end up with marriage life when you turn 16 and you will look after the kids for the rest of your life?’ That is the big excuse made by a culture centuries ago and the majority are happy with that.
Her life decision is under her parents or elder brothers control until she gets married. After marriage she will be expected to do what her husband tells her to do.
She can’t go alone anywhere, she can’t make life decisions, she is not allowed to work, she’s always expected to accept the unacceptable. That’s how the girls are surviving in my society.
I want the girls in my society to be proud, to be motivated, to be supported, to be educated and my biggest dream is to sacrifice my life for them and fight against that part of my society, and for girl’s and women’s freedom.
Hani Abdile is a writer and spoken word poet who fled the civil war in Somalia. She made her way to Australia and was detained on Christmas Island. Hani is an honorary member of PEN, and a lead writer for Writing Through Fences. Hani has received numerous awards for her community work and other achievements since being released from immigration detention. Her first book I Will Rise was published in 2016 to much acclaim and is available through the Writing Through Fences website shop.
(photo by Rodney Decker)
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.
Hani Abdile 2018
Boush Idris Mohammed
Boush is a writer from the the Zaghawa tribe in the Darfur region of Sudan from where he was forced to flee. He is one of the most consistent members of Writing Through Fences, working actively within the group since 2013. His love of story and writing has him hoping to become a teacher. After years of being detained in Indonesia he was granted Refugee Status by the UN but remains in limbo in Indonesia. Boush is an avid reader and is learning guitar. His work appears in the chapbook Our Beautiful Voices published by Writing Through Fences, on the Writing Through Fences website, was played on Refugee Radio 3CR and his piece ‘Mama Africa’ was part of the Through The Moon performance at the Queensland Poetry Festival 2017.
So many nights
Many nights I had with many fake dreams,
but still it’s the new beginning;
Many schools we have with limited qualifications,
but still the hardest is the school of life.
From the beginning I felt the test of my destiny
and from suffering I learned –
discovering confidence and determination
are always my clear destination.
– Boush 2018
Screaming at my beloved country.
Screaming at the land where leaders are giving attention to their pockets rather than caring.
Screaming at the land where human tragedy is alive.
Screaming at the land where governors love corruption rather than love their people.
Screaming at the land of broken tribes, of houses destroyed and economic collapse, where people are depressed and angry, where we pass each other with no greeting and if we do speak its just robotic communication.
Screaming because we don’t care who we are and we don’t care where we are
while we have all grown up from the same land,
fed like twins from the same mother.
– Boush 2018
“Late report but necessary to read once”
It was 3am on the 1st of February 2018. As I wrote this report the sound of the cries from my cellmates rang in my ears.
The rain poured down and washed away my pain, the tears dropped from my eyes dripped onto my mobile keypad.
It has been fifteen consecutive days of protest in Balikpapan Prison camp, East Kalimantan, Indonesia now, we have been demanding freedom from incarceration and a safe and secure life. Now the refugees have decided to initiate their night-time protest.
The chronic pain of exile. Incarcerated for a period of four years. No real hope for ever achieving a peaceful life, no real hope in ever achieving a life without oppression; the refugees embarked on this journey purely because of their inner strength and stamina.
Minutes after they began their protest, after sounding their cries for freedom and their pleas for help, the head warden of the prison arrived together with a group of local police officers.
At this point everyone was calm and they raised their hands up in a show of submission. For some time the head warden of the prison camp hurled as much abuse and insults as he could muster up; he also threatened to press criminal charges and imprison the refugees in the local jails. This is what he told the refugees.
A few were so unbearably tired and felt so totally hopeless. They were completely shocked, their hearts had faltered and they felt they would never be free from this prison… they lost all control of themselves.
Two individuals collapsed for the first time ever and began to tremble. The refugees, who had no medical or first aid skills whatsoever, rushed over to keep the two of them stable lest they hurt themselves or anyone else.
The security guards watching the whole situation unfold not only did not help, they called the local police over and then closed the door and left the scene.
The situation continued like this for a period of time until more individuals began to suffer from heart pain and fainted from the shock. The whole thing was totally out of control. Everyone was screaming, and some were helping the fallen. Nineteen individuals in total had lost all hope and entered a state of shock. Among all this a small youth of fourteen years old also lost control, causing his older brother to enter a state of shock and panic for a short time. Actually, until a few months ago most of the people here were underage and had entered manhood while incarcerated.
The situation is now back under control. No one has any medical training, and there is no one else here to assist us. The immigration officers and IOM have left and gone to sleep in their comfortable beds. Total silence everywhere. Every now and then one of the people who collapsed would let out a yell and then weep. However, they have friends beside them to look after them; they hold down their arms and legs firmly so they do not hurt themselves or others.
It is unclear what will transpire tomorrow. I do not know the consequences of writing this report, I do not know if I will still be alive or not for exposing this. I do not know if I will be cuffed and taken to one of the local prisons, or if I will just remain here and continue to be a voice for the refugees and cry for help.
In any case, I have written this report for people to read and realise that we are still alive – do not let us be buried alive.
For more than a century we have been buried alive everyday and massacred. Tell me, is this civilisation and modernity, is this what you call support for human rights and the oppressed.
Just know that this situation is no different to the terrorist groups who make our lives a living hell and massacre us with bullets and blades.
When they kill us it happens once and our bodies are put to rest, but in here our very souls are dying everyday.
– Erfan Dana in Indonesia
Translated by Omid Tofighian, American University in Cairo/University of Sydney
RISE Press Release Re-Invasion day aka “Australia Day” in 2018
We Refugees, Ex-detainees and Asylum seekers from RISE condemn any group or individual who claims to be pro-refugee but celebrates Invasion Day aka “Australia Day” on the 26th of January.
“We believe the systemic abuse of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a result of over 200 years of discrimination as part of the white colonial genocide strategy that continues to this day and this template is now being used against our own refugee communities. How can we dismantle the white Australian government’s refugee torture camps built within and outside its colonial borders without addressing the root cause of this criminal abuse?”
RISE founder and eX-detainee, Ramesh Fernandez “As survivors of occupation, rape, torture and oppression we should not undermine the struggle for survival that other oppressed community groups face. We should respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their sovereignty. It is not a day to poster yourself on a billboard, dance, sing or wrap a flag around yourself that represents occupation, colonisation and genocide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia”.
As Refugees seeking protection and freedom on this land we acknowledge that we live in occupied territories where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the traditional owners and where sovereignty has never been ceded. ‘Always was, always will be Aboriginal land’.
Full Press Release here : http://riserefugee.org/rise-press-release-re-invasion-day-…/
Listen to the latest show here:
A message from Jenell Quinsee:
Melbourne has a small community radio station and they have a show every Sunday at 10am called Refugee Radio.
We are able to play recordings of your poetry, music, stories, and anything you want! This is an exciting opportunity for people to hear your work if you would like this.
We already have some recordings of your work and can start playing them. You can also make new recordings and send them to me if you would like them played on radio. It does not have to be in English. If you wish to record in your own language please do!
If you cannot send me audio files we can read your poetry on the radio show instead.
I will contact some of you by message to get your consent to play your poetry and music. You do not have to use your name if you don’t want to.
You can contact Jenell on facebook or through the Writing Through Fences contact page or through our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/135276877042748/
AND FINALLY SOME ART & AN INVITATION FOR YOU TO BE INVOLVED
We will add to our blog every week and upload a newsletter each month letting you know what we have been up to.
If you are writing, making art or music and are someone who has been forced to flee your homeland you can join us at Writing Through Fences, share your work and take part in projects.
If you are interested in helping us to continue our work please think about donating to one of our projects. Go to the projects menu and you will see what it is we are up to.
This is a recent art work by J.Luan – Dancing Brush titled ‘Waiting Door’.
http://scenestr.com.au/arts/queensland-poetry-festival-judith-wright-centre-review-20170903 a link to a review about QPF that includes Writing Through Fences.
WRITING THROUGH FENCES at the Queensland Poetry Festival 2017
We acknowledge that our voices, and some of us, are travelling to Yugerra Yugembul country, having passed through various other countries in this continent and world. We acknowledge your ongoing cultures and languages and offer out respect to all your peoples, Elders past, present and future.
This beautiful art work which will feature throughout our various events is by Mahmoud Salameh. Thank you again for your constant support and inspiration Mahmoud.
Through The Moon – Saturday 26th August 2017
1pm – 2pm
BEMAC Level 1 102 Main St Kangaroo Point
with Juan Garido Salgado, Hani Abdile, Ahmad Aeinjamshid, Ahlam Moahamed, Ibtisam Ahmed, Jenell Quinsee, Nick Theodoropoulos,
Farhad Bandesh, Kaveh, Maria, Kazem, Boush, Abdi, Areqou, Lilla, Jajee, Sajjad, Farhad, Rajan, Sri, Moh, Rahman, Sabaa, Milad, A., Iqbal, Ali, Mohammad, Janet
Through the Moon is a weaving of poetry, words, conversations, song and music from members of Writing Through Fences – including those who are held hostage in off-shore and on-shore prison camps, and in limbo in Indonesia and in community in Australia. Here we find resistance and the affirmation of life through creation and relationship.
Poetry and Displacement Panel – Saturday 26th August 2017
Members of Writing Through Fences will speak a little of poetry and displacement and then invite questions from the audience.
Please be mindful of your questions. We are here to present and speak about our work. We hope you will respect us and limit your questioning to the relevant topics rather than our private lives.
WRITING THROUGH FENCES VIDEO POEMS/SHORT FILMS
Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art – IMA Screening Room, 420 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley
AN INVITATION: We hope you watch and listen deeply – as you would with any encounter with any artist or art work – and, importantly, that you listen with a desire to listen openly, not for what you expect but to allow yourself to be absorbed, slashed, challenged by something other than what you expect.
1. Moz from Manus: Rap with video clip: ‘All the same’ with Artists Against Detention
2. Aziz (check out his collaborative award winning podcast ‘The Messenger’) with Michael Green and Behind The Wire
‘Daily Dreams’written and spoken by Abdul Aziz Muhammat (Manus Island) recorded and produced by Michael Green, Through The Wire.
3.’ Who I am’ written and performed by Hani Abdile recorded and produced by Christopher Miles
4. ‘Writing Through Fences’ for ABC by Jane Curtis
5. 11pm , 11 December 2015, Australia’s black site on Nauru
‘Violence against women is one of the great shames of Australia’
PM Turnbull March 8, 2016 written by Maya (psuedonym) and Janet Galbraith. Production by Hannah Patchett
6. ‘We need you’, written and spoken by Ibtisam Ahmed, art work by Iqbal. Production: Jane Curtis
‘Resisting Silence: Poetry and stories from Australia’s political prisoners’. An Empty Chair Sound installation. Sunday 27th August, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art
From four years on bunk beds in Manus refugee detention prison camp, the streets and detention camps of Indonesia and Malaysia, the prison camps on Nauru, in Brisbane and Melbourne, men, women and children have storied and mapped some of the most intimate impacts of nation building in Australia, nation building that occurs on their bodies.
1. I am 67 years old
Thank you to Farhad Shah who worked closely with a woman from Burma to write down her story as she requested and send to Writing Through Fences. The woman’s story is voiced by Janet Galbraith.
2. Lina – Friendship. Thank you to Michael Green and Through The Wire for recording and production.
3. Imran Mohammed – Four years in a bunk bed. Recorded by Imran Mohammed. Production by Rose Ertler.
4. Amir Taghinia – Multilingual Negotiations. Recorded by Amir Taghinia. Production by Rose Ertler.
Some of WTF members have been invited to read from Writing to the Wire Sun 27 Aug 5pm Judith Wright Shopfront, free
Hani Abdile has been invited to read at Voices of Colour Multilingual Slam Sunday 27 Aug Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art
Janet Galbraith will be reading (via distance) at The Day is Here: Poetry + Spoken Word Sat 26 Aug 4-5pm Judith Wright Screening Room, free
If you were not able to pick up a copy of I Will Rise or Our Beautiful Voices at the event, you can buy on line at the Shop
I WILL RISE BY HANI ABDILE
MELBOURNE LAUNCH : 2pm – 5pm, Sunday January 8, 2017 with Girls on Key OPEN STUDIO 204 High St, Northcote.
From the poet/author Hani Abdile
People often ask me why do I write? What they don’t know is that I wasn’t a writer or a poet until moments of suffering made me a writer.
I was sitting in a place where there was only a fence and hapless humans. My pen and paper were bright flashes that lit up my steps. I had no hope other than writing poetry and turning what I wrote into reality.
When everything else in your life is dictated by others, writing become enjoyable. It is not forced. It is a weapon against stress and despair.
For me it was a way of healing and relief. At first it was just a personal thing that I didn’t want to share with anyone because i was afraid of people discovering my weakness. One day when my eyes were bleeding tears and pain was knocking me away, everything I was feeling came out on the table. I posted a poem on Facebook called Freedom for Education and a remarkable human being sent me a message saying ‘are you a poet?’ I didn’t understand the meaning of the word poet so I googled it. I answered no but Janet didn’t give up on me. We started working together. I kept writing.
I joined Writing Through Fences. It was amazing how welcome I felt thereWe all come from different races and religions. I started to rise and build my talent. I was no longer afraid of my weakness because in Writing Through Fences we had something in common. Everyone was going through hardships of life in different ways and writing the pain was our secret doctor. Now these people are not only fellow members but family and everlasting friends.
I Will Rise shows my development as a writer. It means a lot to me and the people who are by my side through this journey.
From Miles Merril of Word Travels:
Hani is an incredibly brave writer. This book is a cathartic journey, purging her hardships through the creation of beauty. Hani throughout the pain of her experiences has kept hope and joy alive through her poetry. From Somalia to Christmas Island detention to Sydney, the theme of Hani’s challenging life has been and still is ‘I Will Rise’. The poems are full of passion, emotion and intellectual depth. The kind of passion that tears at the reader/listener and forces us to question out won role in keeping prolific artists like this locked away from Australian shores. The richness of her language and the vividness of her imagery signals the beginnings of a great writer. Keep watching this poet.
From Abdi Aden author of The Shining Boy.
I Will Rise is an amazing collection of poetry and prose that dates back years. Hani’s work shines. The stories are full of struggles and warmth of belonging. Hani is able to reflect the absolute angst of being a refugee. I was able to identify myself in her so stories however also gained insights into the plight of others. Without a doubt Hani is a true talent.
From Dr Karen Zwi : Australian Human Rights Commission Inquiry into the impact of detention on children.
I first met Hani when she was detained on Christmas Island as an “unacompanied minor” as part of Australia’s policy of mandatory, indefinite detention of asylum seekers arriving by boat. I was visiting as part of the Australian Human Rights Commission Inquiry into the impact of detention on children. Hani lit up the room with her smile, her aspirations and her wisdom, even though she and her fellow detainees were locked in a grim and hopeless situation.
Through her remarkable gift of connecting deeply with people, we stayed in contact as she remained detained and reached a point of life-threatening despair and as she was released and began to “rise”. Hani has a “positive soul that gives hope to others”. I have been truly humbled by her strength of character, her intense motivation to learn and explore, her engagement with poetry, photography, hospitality and almost anything else she encounters, and her commitment and kindness to all the people she meets along the way. She has made her way into my heart like no one else I have ever met and her powerful poetry, the “weapon against [her] stress”, will allow her readers that privilege too.
About Hani Abdile
Hani Abdile is a poet, writer, photographer, student and author/poet of I WILL RISE. Hani touches everyone she comes in contact with. Her first collection of poetry and prose has finally been released by Writing Through Fences. Her work offers many the opportunity to experience some of Hani’s spirit, wonder and strength as well as her commitment to justice and life. She speaks the sufferings and joys that few are able to.
Hani says : “My pen and paper were bright flashes that lit up my steps. I had no hope other than writing poetry and turning what I wrote into reality”. I WILL RISE reflects Hani’s tenacity, her dedication to writing and her creative approach to all that life has brought.
Hani began writing in 2013 whilst incarcerated in immigration detention on Christmas Island. Over the three years she has learned to read and write English, has written the collection I Will Rise, has completed 2 years of schooling, become a regular and celebrated spoken word poet in the Sydney scene, has inspired and guided many other writers in similar situations to herself, has spoken publicly and worked on committees to further the rights of children who are seeking asylum in Australia.
Hani is an honorary member of PEN, a lead writer for Writing Through Fences, and has received various awards for her community work and many achievements since being released from immigration detention.
Writing Through Fences are so proud to be associated with her. Hani is a treasured friend and part of our family. We all wish you well with this wonderful achievement dear sister.
I Will Rise is published by Writing Through Fences and can be purchased through the website writingthroughfences.org
It has been a hard week for many with the High Court decision coming down largely in favor of the government.
Here are some responses from writers in detention.
Aziz is a writer and human rights defender who has been detained on Manus Island for 31 months.
He prefaces the poem with:
I wrote this poem after the High Court ruled against us which is very disappointing for all of us. The refugee activists were carrying out big protests around the cities of Australia which will make us to not lose hope although we have been languishing in detention centre for 31 months and now languish indefinately.
We are in huge conflict with our mental health because of ongoing torture and trauma including harassment from the staff.
I am requesting from all of my friends to keep hope.
Let us break this silence of the coconut trees and the ocean.
Let us back to our normal lives outside of the fences.
image by Mohsen Jakarta
Who will cry for the young men?
Who will cry for the young men
lost and all alone?
Who will cry for the young man
abandoned without his own?
Who will cry for the young men
tortured in detention?
Who will cry for the young man
who cries himself to sleep?
Who will cry for the young men
who never have their keeps?
Who will cry for the young men
who walk in burning sand?
Who will cry for the young men,
the boy inside the man,
who knows the world’s hurt and pain?
Who will cry for the young men,
who died and die again?
Who will cry for the young men?
Good men they are trying to be.
Who will cry for the young men?
I cry inside of me.
Who will cry for the young men?
We will together.
– Aziz, Manus.
And an article by Behrouz Boochani in The Age