The Dilemma of Job, or Hope into the Wilderness (henry 7 reneau, jr)

Posted on April 13, 2018 by in Discoursing Diaspora, Heightened Talk

A close up of an African man wearing a hat

A close up of an African man wearing a hatThe Great Migration is the parable of dispossession pursuing a Northern star. Leaving rock-salted sorrow to come to terms with dignity deferred. Leaving hate, too long in place, that had tread over Jim Crow crippled bodies, that had taken without asking, & mayhem-ed. Leaving, with no pot to piss in.

They filed from rural patches of sharecrop-spent dirt & Parchman work farms, from cotton-field holla’ to electrified Chicago blues, from segregation to ‘I Am A Man’ & Detroit assembly-line dreams of reinvention. From minstrels to uptown cabarets to Broadway. From jump the broom to rent parties: a citified brand of jook joint in up-north ghetto gatherings. From So. Baptist shake, rattle & roll to ‘Thank God almighty, I’m free at last,’ fantasizing a ‘formula’ to the Mountaintop.

They brought catfish, greens & cornbread, blood-bucket daddy Blues & mama Gospel.

They carried battered hope in bundled cardboard boxes & rope-tied satchels, in dreams that convinced them to hallelujah-amen! the risen Son, even as the legitimacy of their pain struggled helplessly at the seams of the Veil. Darkness seeking light living darkness, every kind of sorrow in every voice they heard, & rarely judged by what their hands could do, but rather, by how they looked or spoke.

They came, with stories that spoke the generational hum of persistence, the endeavor to persevere, despite the ‘outside gaze’ that measured beauty in increments of silk or sackcloth. They came, a threadbare, black reflection of white entitlement: the upturned, razor-blade nose & racist cop.

They came, in Pullman carriage, in hope-and-a-shoestring beat-up cars, in get-there-soon, North Star-true—one foot, then the other, like runaway slaves: the O.G. triathletes on the Underground Railroad.

They came, like wandering Jews, drawn to the discriminating flame that seduced by combustion, that warmed desire & distilled a ghost of a chance from the segregated liquor of trial & tribulation—flashes of silvered hope, darting through & around a gale force wind, howling back into the heart of the question: are we there yet?


A photo of Henry Reneau

Photo by Mercedes Herrera

henry 7. reneau, jr.
writes words in conflagration to awaken the world ablaze, free verse that breaks a rule every day, illuminated by his affinity for disobedience: a phoenix-flux of red & gold immolation that blazes from his heart, like a chambered bullet exploded through change, come to implement the fire. He is the author of the poetry collection, freedomland blues (Transcendent Zero Press) and the e-chapbook, physiography of the fittest (Kind of a Hurricane Press), now available from their respective publishers. Additionally, he has self-published a chapbook entitled 13hirteen Levels of Resistance, and his work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Papi Pichón (Dimitri Reyes)

Posted on March 13, 2018 by in Discoursing Diaspora

Black and white image of pigeons and lamp post in Puerto Rico

papi pichón flies out of my library book and no one
hears him because he chirps at spanish-to-english

dictionary speed. all dismiss papi’s beautiful
wings    a sabre, a grindstone attached to his gold

plated breasts a picture of many beers emptied
across a flag on the wingspan of a flying rat.

sin vergüenza, he fluffs its feathers and juts
its pecker at an unknown roost slurring,   “Mira! Mira!

I got your stereotypical Boricua right here!”
pointing to its pigeon butt. if it had a crack

it’d be the faultline where carpetbaggers meet
the campo. the winning lotto ticket my grandmother

never scratched flutters out of the same book
and papi pichón gobbles it up. it’s been a long time

since we’ve seen real gold that is not the deceiving
yellow foil of a Publisher’s Clearing House sold dream.

it’s been longer since the puerto rican was “as smart as cuban.”
since coplas, décimas, y bombas fetishized Borinquen reinas

and creole babies. show me royalty, father pigeon,
before you go up in flames. before you are burnt

ash buried underneath more history where
Ricky Martin, JLO and others sit on your pile

of dust because you can still sing louder. fly me
to the antiquity that collected the dusts of gold

for your angels in Ponce and harvested coca
to make our heartbeats beat faster than our feet

stepping to the conga in Newark. papi pichón
wants me to follow him past Oscar López Rivera

during the puerto rican day parade. before the Bronx
burnings and commonwealth when we squawked like

coquís. before colorless. before oro. before
our sea of tierra learned to speak Spanish.


Listen to the poem


image: portrait of Dimitri ReyesDimitri Reyes is a Puerto-Vegan educator, writer, artist, and community organiser from Newark, New Jersey. He is the recipient of the SLICE Magazine’s 2017 Bridging the Gap Award for Emerging Poets and a finalist for the Arcturus Poetry Prize by the Chicago Review of Books. Dimitri is a candidate in the Rutgers-Newark MFA program and his poetry is published or forthcoming in Entropy, Hawai’i Review, Acentos Review, Anomaly, Kweli, and others. He is also expanding the poetry community through his YouTube channel.

FREE POETRY (Janet Galbraith and Writing Through Fences)

Posted on November 10, 2017 by in Discoursing Diaspora


Writing Through Fences is a group made up of writers and artists who are, or have been, detained in Australia’s immigration detention prisons, along with others who work to amplify and support those detained.

We first came across the Free Poetry Project when Eunice Andrada, poet and arts organiser, invited us to be a part of the project Free Voices/Free Poetry. The project sees words freed from the page and placed into public spaces. Our focus this year has been on the lead up to to the abandonment of the refugees and asylum seekers in Australia’s gulag in Manus Province, PNG.

We are trying to highlight what is happening to these men by placing the words of poets and writers on Manus into the public arena.  Excerpts from poems have been projected at festivals, hung on banners outside businesses, placed in libraries and bookshops, stuck onto the signs of local politicians, and served as backdrops to spoken word events.  We are asking poets, writers and artists who are free in Australia to support poets and writers who are detained by participating in this project.

Over the past five years I have come across  many people who were detained after fleeing their country of origin due to reading, writing and sharing poetry and literature. I am constantly amazed at how many have been forced to flee because of activities which most of us here take for granted, but which for them are deemed illegal and many times punishable by death.

— Janet Galbraith & Writing Through Fences

If you would like more information, visit the Free Poetry Facebook page or contact Writing Through Fences at


Design & photography by Marziya Mohammedali.

I didn’t run from my country to come
and destroy yours.
I came here to join you
Because we both want the same peace.



They called us queue jumpers and now we are in the queue to be killed
Please tell us how many more lives
do you need from us?

(story-teller, messenger, advocate, detained on Manus for 4+ years)


Silence breaks its silence
Setting free it’s songs.
The shouts of sleepers
Releasing the voices of the voiceless
Screaming ‘Freedom! Freedom!’

Farhad (poet, musician, instrument maker, detained on Manus Island for 4.5 years)


Why is the world so quiet? Murtaza (student, ex-detainee)

La Mamma Theatre. Photo: Kylie Supski.


Power is in the hands of wicked people.
They have made the world
an un-passable bridge.

Kazem (musician and writer, Manus)


sing and roar louder than a lion
and those who imprisoned you will realize
they can no longer dumb your voice.

(writer, poet, student, teacher,ex-detainee)



We’re putting a brave face on so that no one sees how terribly frightened we are inside.

Imran (writer, detained on Manus for 4.5 years)

Photo: Janet Galbraith

We all long for special smiles, tender hands and soft lips.
We all long for love…That opportunity has been stolen from us.

Wallid (writer, detained on Manus for 4.5 years)

Photo: Tess Pearson, at the Ubud Writers Festival in Indonesia.

The grizzled sky

As a teenage boy I remember when it was raining,
the moisture of soil smelt lovely…
But here, in the world of loneliness, the rain doesn’t smell.
I only become very old and must continue my life
under the grizzled sky…

Ali (writer, detained in limbo in Indonesia for 4.5 years)

Photo: Janet Galbraith

We are not rocks for you to block the sea with.

Ghulam Mustafa (citizen reporter, indefinitely detained on Manus for 4.5 years)

Hamad Airport, Doha State of Qatar. Photo: Eunice Andrada


I am a reality

You recognize me from my words
You never see my self and meet me
But I am a reality
I’m a real experience of pain.

(poet, indefinitely detained on Manus Island for 4.5 years)



Ah my friends…
Where is the freedom and flight?
They sign the migration of the swallow as ‘forbidden’,
surround the unordered sky with fences,
whip its wings.
Is this its only right?

When will the celebration of paper and words be?

Surena (poet, indefinitely detained on Manus Island for 4+ years)

Photo: Janet Galbraith

I’m a writer and musician. I’ve been looking for freedom since I knew myself.

Thunder (musician and writer, detained on Manus for 4.5 years)


Oh Mom,
every night I weep and shed tears about those memories I had in your lap.
Your are my peace of mind and heaven is under your feet.
Every night I go through the nightmares caused to me by these tyrants.
Only your memories are keeping me alive.

Nazeer (poet, indefinitely detained on Manus for 4+ years)

The Complimentary Caravan in Canberra. Photo: Rose Ertler

An un-passable bridge


My guitar is my soul mate nowadays.
I don’t care for the world anymore.
I play my guitar with a heart full of sadness;
My eyes drizzle like rain.

My heart is absent minded.
It’s going to tell the secret words.
It has a heavy pain to reveal.
It is profoundly sad,
sad like someone who has lost his sweetheart.
It has many words to say
but there are no worthy people to talk to.

My restless heart wants to fly
to take a message to someone.
But what benefit is there when there is no way to fly?
My heart is exhausted from waiting and effort.
It’s breathless and alone.
It’s become weak.
It’s looking for a way to fly.

My heart with a hidden secret
and a world full of wounds in a jail
has no path to freedom.
It’s been condemned to a sorrowful separation.

I wish there was a kind person to give a chance to this prisoner,
give him a smile again as a gift.
Let him free from fetters and alienation.
What a pity that it’s all a dream!

My helpless heart has never seen bliss.
The jailer is bringing new chains to fasten.
This is a different prison.
Oh, banish the sorrow of my unblessed heart.

Kazem (musician and writer, Manus)

You can listen to the full poem read in Farsi here.


Writing Through Fences
is a group of people who create, write or make art.  Most of the members are or have been incarcerated within Australia’s immigration detention regime.  A small group of non-refugee artists and writers resident in these lands are involved in collaborative, amplification and supportive roles.

Writing Through Fences aims to create a safe place in which writers and artists can explore their ideas, creativity, experiences and identities within, before and despite immigration detention.  We aim to open a place to re-member, a place to launch our work from, and to push aside walls that would attempt to contain or destroy us and our work.  We believe that creation is necessary to ward off the killing effects of destruction.

Writing Through Fences remembers that we are working, living, and imprisoned within the long colonial practices of division of country, of displacement and incarceration that is characteristic of Australia’s ongoing racist history. We remember that sovereignty has never been ceded.

We all have voices and assert that no one can give us a voice and no one can take our voice away. Our voices are ours and we do with them what we will.

To help Writing Through Fences publish more work coming out of Manus & Nauru, please donate at: Writing Through Fences, Bendigo Bank, BSB: 633108, Acc No: 152841052




Don’t Talk About the ’Dont Walk’ Sign (Alexandra O’Sullivan)

Posted on August 25, 2017 by in Discoursing Diaspora

Imagine you live in a world where female is the default gender. Where women own 95% of big business, media companies, and government positions. You study herstory at school, written by women, with female central figures. Herstory has very few male achievements. When you read bedtime stories to your children about non-gender specific animals you say ‘she’ automatically. Female sport is said to be the only sport worth watching, and therefore gets nearly all the media coverage. You agree that it’s ‘just more exciting’.

Your role as a man is encouraged to be passive, nurturing, secondary to the female role. You must be sexy to please women, but not so sexy that your woman feels like she can’t keep you all for herself. It’s a difficult balancing act but you try your best. You start to view yourself through the ‘female gaze’ and agonise over your thighs and the size of your pecs. You starve yourself skinny and use painful methods to keep all the hair off your body, because you know that’s what women like. You apologise all the time. You apologise for apologising all the time.

When you got married it was assumed you would take your wife’s name. You happily surrendered that piece of your identity, because you know it’s the matriarchal line that matters. Everyone else in your family has done the same, after all. Every romantic movie you watch reminds you that you are obsessed with getting married and that it benefits you way more than your wife, who must continue her career to support you, while you get to stay home and raise the children and scrub the toilet.

You love your children, but you feel a nagging dissatisfaction. Sometimes you feel like you are merely an extension of your family. That you aren’t seen. So, you start reading and researching meninism. You find other men who feel the same way. You join groups. You organise protests about things that affect you like the wage gap and rape culture. You start writing articles about these things and about your loss of identity, your sense that the balance is off somehow. Many men react to these articles positively, some men don’t. And many, many women don’t. But nevertheless, you persist.

You learn about gendered violence and rape. You become enraged that it continues at the rate that it does, and that perpetrators are seldom held to account. You are shocked that victims are often blamed, and you wonder how the world you live in could twist reality to such an extent. When you question this, you get abused online and in your home, but nevertheless, you persist.

Because you know that slowly things are improving. The group you have joined once fought and died for male suffrage rights, and you feel connected to something bigger than yourself, yet at the same time, more yourself than ever before. You no longer starve yourself, or spread hot wax on your pubic hair and rip it out every month. Your wife calls you disgusting but you no longer care. You wonder why you put yourself through that pain for so long. It causes a rift in your marriage and you realise that she never let you be yourself. You realise many things about your relationship. You divorce her, but she won’t accept it and her stalking and violence makes you so scared you take out an intervention order. It does not stop her. No one recognises your fear because you never said anything about it before and she never hit you. So, you stop mentioning it.

Then, as a small act of acknowledgment at your gender’s historical place as the ‘other,’ your council decides to change some of the street crossing signs from a female figure to a male one. You have always said to your children, ‘Wait for the green woman Billy,’ or ‘Stop Sarah, it’s the red woman,’ without even thinking about the pronoun you were using or how it was imprinting in their developing minds. You know this is a small gesture, but you also know from previous battles won that small changes add up to big ones. You feel momentarily happy. You feel seen. You celebrate.

And the world goes ape-shit.


And you think, Yeah, maybe I was being a bit whiney. After all, how can unconscious bias be a thing when everyone is saying it doesn’t affect them? You feel confused and sad. You are told not to feel confused and sad, but to feel lucky. You try to feel lucky. You think, I should care more about men in other countries who really have it tough. I’m lucky to live in Australia where I can walk along freely down the street (as long as it’s daylight and I walk fast and don’t make eye contact and if it is night time I hold my keys between my fist and if I do get raped it’s my fault for walking alone at night and my rapist will probably not get sentenced anyway). I’m lucky to live in a country where I have all the same legal rights as women (except that I live in constant fear that my ex will make me a statistic and the courts and police are doing nothing to protect me, but if she does kill me no doubt she’ll be described in the paper as a really top chick who cared about her family).

You feel ashamed for ever caring at all about street crossings. You think, I just need to keep reminding myself how lucky I am. And you remind yourself again so that you won’t forget. I’m really lucky, you think, so I should just shut up.



Alexandra O’Sullivan writes articles for The Radical Notion, along with writing fiction and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in several literary journals, including Tincture and Meanjin. She recently received a Highly Commended in the inaugural Horne Prize for creative nonfiction.

TRUTH IN THE CAGE (Mohammad Ali Maleki)

Posted on June 20, 2017 by in Discoursing Diaspora

A photograph, taken by Mohammad Ali Maleki, of his notebook on Manus Island

You can find my whole life in my poems like a letter to God —Mohammad Ali Maleki

Translated by Manus Island detainee Mansour Shoushtari 
Edited by Michele Seminara and Marilyn Beech

A Dream of Death

My dears, I know these are stories are old:
but please, I ask you, listen.

I was once young and happy, like you.
I used to jump from one wall to another—
I was so healthy and fresh.
I came to live in peace beside you.
I sought asylum in your country because of my bad luck.
But for a long time now I’ve felt alone in this place,
terrorised by bad memories.

I don’t know why they tortured me,
why they cut my wings and feathers.
They treated us all like animals, they put us in this cage—
What kind of help was that?
It’s as if they went to a feast and left us tied up,
like livestock, outside.

They played with my spirit and soul for years.
They played as if I were a piece
on a chessboard.
In the final moment of each game
I am always trapped.

I’ve lived with fear in this cage.
At night I have no peace because of nightmares.
The doctor said I had no choice:
so I took the pills he gave me
and sat by the fence
for hours.

And still I take the pills
and sit by the fence for hours.
At first my mind stops, then I dream.
My thoughts are killing me.
They take me to my death.
I see strange events in this camp
and in the other one.

Suicide and self-immolation are always on people’s minds here.
Once this was just in our imaginations—
But did you see that all those dreams have now came true?
You all know what’s going on
in the Manus and Nauru hells.
There are rapes, burnings and hangings.
Many have said goodbye to their lives.

Do you see what the mental pills do to us?
When you see or hear us, from far away,
you say, They are some crazy, stupid people!
Let me tell you, it’s all because of those pills;
it’s not our fault.

One day, like every day,
I took those pills: I had no choice.
I fell deep into a dream, was sunk there for hours…
In my dream I saw that I was dead.
They put me into a rotten coffin
and shrouded me in pale, second-hand linens
taken from the rubbish.

When they wrapped me in those linens, my soul stepped apart—
I was suspended in air.
They were carrying me to the far corners of the cemetery.
I wished I could have died beside my parents,
died in peace, in their embrace.
I looked for a familiar person to hold my coffin
but there were only strangers there damning and cursing me.
They did not care for what they held;
they did not cry.

We came to the exiled cemetery
and they threw me into a hole with hate.
There was a stony pillow under my head.
The shrouded linens were rotten on my body.
How terrible and frightening it was,
inside the grave.

I saw many animals make their way into my grave.
My soul saw how they ate my body:
they left nothing but some pieces of bone.
Just yesterday I had talked and laughed
but now it looked as if I had never even been human.
They threw soil on my coffin;
they didn’t put a headstone there.
They wrote no name and no address.
No one in the world knew who I was.

In my dream I screamed, Parents! Know I died!’
I saw my parents dressed in black, because of my death:
how deeply they cried out and wept.
Mum tore at her face until there was nothing left
undamaged and there were blood and tears
flowing down her face.

Her hair had already turned white from our separation,
even before my death.
My father had begged, Son, what kind of migration is this?
Now mum fainted from sorrow, whispering, I have no sign of his grave.
And tears flowed from Dad’s white eyelashes, as he cried,
It was our dream to see your wedding,
but we’ve heard of your death instead

I woke in horror, the dream heavy on my heart.
Wishing I had not hurt them by dying,
by failing to have that wedding day.

Understand, please: I wish to live healthily, like you,
to say goodbye to these damn pills.
For three years I’ve taken them
and now I’m deeply tired, hopeless and depressed.
How do I explain the hurt of this hard, bitter life?
I swear to God, every night I wish to die,
and every morning, I wish not to be alive.
Then because my thoughts are killing me
I have no choice but to take these damn pills!

Should I thank your government for this?
Is this the care you give to refugees?
That you make addicts here, and mental illness?
Only God can help us.
Put yourself in our families’ shoes for a second.
Put your children in our shoes too.
If this is rudeness, please forgiven me;
I make obeisance to you.
And I ask God to also forgive those who tortured us—
They know not what they d0.



I washed my hands with clean water
to erase the bad habits of my friends.
I escaped from my homelands and my home
so as not to be in touch with them anymore.
I travelled alone, on a dangerous path,
hoping to find some peace.

Now we gather here from different countries,
with different languages and cultures.
All the faces are strangers to me,
all the races—black, light and white.
I am comforted that in my estrangement
there are no old, familiar friends:
not knowing that these new people
are in fact the same friends with different faces.

These new friends form groups.
I watch to see how they behave.
There is a group that are very kind, like brothers,
who help when you are in need.
They always treat you fairly.

There are some who only pretend to be friends—
They’ll stab you in the back at once.
There are many who are silver tongued,
always busy backbiting others—
their tongues sting like snakes!

There’s a group who take your property,
always stretching out their hands.
They know how to pretend to be innocent
and how to beg and cry like a child.

There are some who are jealous,
always looking to compare.
You have to avoid these people
because they do not deserve friends.

Another group are the enemy,
always starting fights.
We know what they intend to do;
they just think to beat us down.

Then there are those who travel
from far away to help and support us.
This group are just like angels—
We kneel before them!

But there’s another group who come here,
because they want to have sex with us.
It’s another kind of slavery,
taking sexual advantage of the already enslaved.

Friends, don’t be upset with me—
I just have to tell you the truth.


Truth in the Cage

You, who we came to seek refuge from,
why do you treat us so badly?
The world won’t always be the same.
Like a ball rotating for millennia,
it never stays the same.

Before you, many others had power;
now they are no longer in power.
Death, as a form of justice, is no escape.
In death, only goodness remains,
but evil will not be forgotten.

You, who say we are illiterate
and accuse us of being uneducated terrorists—
Why do you judge us?
You call us whatever comes out of your mouth.
We brought three things with us when we were born:
discipline, mother wit and realisation.
You tried to take these away from us
but you couldn’t because they are congenital.
Realisation and mother wit aren’t related to literacy;
having these just means we are human.

If you see fault it’s because you’re looking
through the eyes of a wrongdoer.
You’ve taught us so many bad things here;
I hope God doesn’t forgive you for this.
You’ve taught people to become gamblers:
to keep busy they gamble day and night.
But we haven’t seen a winner, even once.
The gambler is always a loser.

You’re playing a bad gambling game with our lives.
Some people here have learnt how to smoke marijuana.
They’d never seen marijuana before!
Then you call these people addicted ones—
It is you who’ve turned these people into addicts.
They use drugs to hide from their depression,
then you say, These people are sick!
Who made them sick?
Many have gone crazy in here. Why?
Because you put their minds under pressure.
Men become crazy because their minds can’t go on.
They spend their time talking with themselves.

You’re killing us, and then you call it policy!
You say, These people are imprudent,
but think, why are they imprudent?
A long time in this detention camp has taken their wisdom away.
We’re unable to make right decisions now
because we can’t focus to think clearly.
It’s natural that this should happen, but not congenital.
Look how nervous, crazy and restless your guards are—
How can we possibly be calm in their presence?

Finally, you called us wrongdoers:
but it is you who brought us here illegally.
We didn’t know this place until you brought us here.
You’ve played with us all in different ways.
You’ve showed a bad face to the world—
but that isn’t our face.
The money and power are in your hands.
The law is in your hands.

I have nothing more to say to you.
Judge us by any means you like.
Be careful though, because what will you feel
when your time finally comes?



Mohammad Ali Maleki is an Iranian poet and avid gardener who has been living in detention on Manus Island for four years. His poem ‘The Strong Sunflower’ was the first work published on Verity La’s Discoursing Diaspora project. Since then, Mohammad’s writing has been published by Bluepepper and by the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group. He has been a featured poet on Rochford Street Review, and his poems and letters have been included in the Dear Prime Minister project and at the Denmark Festival of Voice.  His poem ‘Tears of Stone’ was shortlisted for the Red Room Company’s New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016 and received Special Commendation for extraordinary work in extreme circumstances. Mohammad’s chapbook, Truth in the Cage, will be released in early 2018 from Rochford Street Press.


“I’ve met so many who have lost so much. But they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world. They ask for little in return – only our support in their time of greatest need” — UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. 

Please consider signing the UN Refugee Agency’s With Refugees Petition asking governments to work together to do their fair share for refugees.



(Iraqi poets translated by Haider Catan and Tim Heffernan)

Posted on May 30, 2017 by in Book Extracts, Discoursing Diaspora

(edited by Ramon Loyola & Michele Seminara)

An Extract from Introduction to The Poetry in the Minefields
By Abdulrahman Almajedi, Iraqi journalist and poet living in the Netherlands

Organizers of poetry and drama festivals in Western countries may organize poetry readings on a lake or in a field, but have their poets read in the middle of a minefield? Or inside a destroyed nuclear reactor, surrounded by walls filled with radiation? Or in an ambulance?  Or in a hospital bed?

This may sound shocking, however this is what is happening today, in Iraq, organised by a valiant group of young poets — The Militia of Culture — who are using their poetics to fight against the transmission of the deadly semantics of the militia which has consumed the lifeblood of Iraq since 2003.  These poets organise ‘festivals’ in order to express what is no longer allowed to be talk about in Iraq — but these festivals take place in the middle of the numerous minefields still littering the country, amongst nuclear reactors still sending their deadly radiation across civilian neighborhoods, and surrounded by the trauma of bombs intended to maim and kill innocent women and children.

These painful poems have been neglected by the local media in Iraq, but now they are crossing the border and drawing the attention of Arab and European nations, confirming the role of literature as a powerful creative and political tool for expressing the nightmarish daily reality of death in Iraq.


(kadhem khanjar)

when the policeman checks you at the market, you feel like a terrorist.

when your eyes try to cross the barbed wire that separates the house and the street,
you pass like a terrorist.

whenever you walk near the concrete blocks leading to your work, you walk like a terrorist.

whenever you give the rent to the owner he treats you like a terrorist.

and when watching tv with your children, you see your terrorism in the mouths of others.

when you visit your brother in prison, the guards check your name on the wanted list and find that you are not a terrorist.

when you park your bike on the sidewalk, shop owners believe it is a bombed bicycle and that you are a terrorist.

when you go with your wife to see a doctor about fractures and they keep you waiting and waiting, like a terrorist.

when from terror you buy a bottle of whisky, creeping it under their eyes, you feel like a terrorist.

daily, swallowing tablets of terrorism—in the morning, the afternoon, at night—just as the pharmacist recommended.

Kadhem Khanjar

a bombed car
(kadhem khanjar)

wings for the cat on the fence of the power station.
wings for the fence.
wings for seven construction workers.
wings for the vegetable shopper.
wings for vegetables.
wings for the little girl’s legs on her way to school.
wings for her backpack.
wings for the skin of bus passengers.
wings for the bicycle and the cyclist and his bread.
wings for the asphalt and power poles and signboards.
wings for the eardrum.
wings for the urgent news.

bombed cars grant wings to everything.

Wissam Ali

6 pm / street 40
(wissan ali)

death’s fingers prick our feet and we are running like dancers carrying the shells
of bombed cars to get them to the survivors.

from your palm to the earth’s palm is a lake of dettol and gauze stained with blood.
i doubt my upper body, especially my mouth.

i was the last in line at the morgue where everyone returned to ice-filled eskies.

“both whisky and organs are served with ice.”

how will i be after three tons of explosives? and with which grin will i face the lord?
no guarantee, my face will not scare him. any geometric shape will take the coffin.
if i survive i will cheat everyone by buying jeans and the best dentist for my teeth.
i will still look strange but at least not the same as the one who liquefied above me.

bombs lick my body after the door finishes sucking my finger.

we are coffins strapped with safety belts.

Ahmed Diaa

i didn’t care about the bombing, as all survivors are casualties anyway
(ahmad diaa)

i      death

this silent bombing
tickles half of my hat.

ii     beheaders

it has not started yet
encapsulating tears,
becoming a ladder which the casualties climb.

iii    bullets

tears are war strings
so don’t hesitate to pick the head.

iv    continuers

from the cage of my ribs, i carved the meat from the bone
and the dream from the awakening.
This is how we learned slaughterhouses.

v     apprehension

a scar
the memory.

vi    claws

eyelids bleed tears, wallowing, coagulating above
a handful of dust.

vii   prisoners of war

stupid death is sweeping the place as the gates of paradise push back their heads.

viii  graves

our backs are riddled with bullets and the blind man sees
things with his ears.
the blind are walking inside the minefield and this old man
teaches me to sleep on the shoulder of dust.

ix    violation

i turn to water when i hear the ambulance scream.

x     barbarism

the officer releases convoys of the slaughtered soldiers
while receiving convoys of those who seek to die.

xi    primitive leukaemia

my feet are a thermometer
measuring the heat of the mine’s lips.

xii   tension

no escape from death
that’s what i was told
at the execution washing line.

Mohamed Karim

an 81 magazine
(mohamed karim)

25  in the body,
25  in the body,
25  in the body,
5  random shots,
fired from a kalashnikov’s mouth…!

Ahmed Jabbour

(ahmed jabbour)

by the name of allah,
by the name of bullets,
by the name of the wise,
by the name of the group,
by the name of the militias,
by the name of the gun muffler.
opening the factory of improvised explosive devices
in a country that has become a divided sewer.

Mazen Almaamouri

(mazen almaamouri)

in the street adjacent to osirak
i saw people coming out from the cancerous cells and the bellies of wires,
and the remnants of mutants
hung on the doors
adorning the houses with the colour of the new dawn.

scorched earth.
dead people sneak one by one
towards the last paper,
transparent as the colour of their skin,
its edges like remnants of meat flying over the graves and shoulders
of the cloaks that shroud mourning mothers
with scattered fragments and acid rain.

school clothes are torn on street’s wires.
the dead sneak toward the white paper
to absorb an old nectar dream.

i came out of the barrel of a cannon, i think it was russian-made.
it was cold and at its edges rust trembled at the sound of the shell.


when i was a fish,
i approached the sand—my scales began to soften,
my tail became two long legs and my eyes grew close to each other.
i grabbed the ground with two long hands,
because the world is the lavishness of the sea,
and so i’m the shit of a shark, old, but i breathe.


the cockroach tasted the stool of the corpse jammed into the sewer tunnel,
it tasted of bullets and the spice of gunpowder.
its joints constricted after its stomach decayed,
then the soldier’s boot fell and fled.


ants are coming out of the soldier’s pocket while he sits on the train bench.
the girl, sitting near the soldier, opens her mouth to breathe from the window
above the bench where the soldier is sitting.
people are moving rapidly toward the dim light far from the soldier and the girl—
they are diving into deep sleep.

Ali Taj Aldeen

the structure of fragmenting
(ali taj aldeen)

bones are rolling from the mouths of lizards whenever they throw the nets on us. one has vomited everything it has eaten in the last 2400 years, so it doesn’t leave any sidewalk without painting it the colour of its lust. then we find the streets have gathered their cloaks and they wait at the morgue, smoking their last pipe.

a second lizard comes out of the earth like a volcano with seven heads, dragging a trifork and inserting it into the stomachs of millions of shells emptied from the rust, staring, visiting my dreams, waking up with blood, dazzling with death, i wash my body with devastation and debris, the same devastation and debris i use to build my house located on the opposite side of the seventh gate of this world, close to the nail where manhood was hanged while those gathering were drinking wine. they fear every checkpoint on the entry to each city. cities are bombed everyday by the fingers of āyāt, before they are lit  by a thousand suns. suns that are shut by the sharia of single-celled algae, containing nothing but the rocks covered with black cloth in the morning.

Ali Thareb

from a paper left by a passenger in the bus
(ali thrab)

the body is not reflected in the saliva of the hungry people.
friends do not think of suicide.
a god does not develop without meaning.
a mother is standing by the clothes line
with a good heart.
another chance to escape from this moment.
a woman does not fall into the mouth of an animal.
a shadow becomes a tree,
climbing to escape from the land.
stepping toward his childhood
his mouth gone at once
into a whole apple.
all this for a man who would live.

because we do not have a weapon at home
renegades in the neighbourhood
hang their shoes on the door knob.
my father and i are fighting,
who will wear it first?

when i kiss my burned hand
i make fun of my futile flesh
and touch this lost life
as my fingers cry a distorted knowledge.

i want to annihilate newspapers
and complete life naked.
i just wish to sell lingerie
and for my mother to stop cooking her hand
for us every night.
i wish to defecate in our neighbour’s toilet,
and to fall from eyes that walk
and legs that see.

the dead angel i saw
in the house’s sewer
could flee on my bike
so i would not be frightened
of these rooms anymore.

the hook in the room’s ceiling
catches me whenever i disappear into sleep.

i was running in a coffin
when life finally visited.

(wissan ali)

i still burn in vain,
my song is over,
my dance has melted into wheezy footsteps.
insert your hand inside the knife to find my lost neck,
then hold the clouds softly
so as not to overlap the cries of my friends when they watch my head roll over
the bottom of the youtube screen.

the tie of the power pole,
rope gallows,
i refuse to be hung on it, i don’t want my face to touch the bar.

fragments looking for a toilet.
fragments settling in me.
bomb and car and gun muffler
packed with stones from the kidney of the lord.

Hasan Tahsin

the pages of sidewalk
(hasan tahsin)

browsing the pages of the sidewalk with my burnt fingers
i found tears,
then i watered the sand
and wished it could give birth to an eye to guard the earth.

tired, i walked,

and i saw bunches of burnt heads like black grapes.

i walked more and, hearing a whisper,
found my body sounded good and asked,
is there any person who can plant me to grow again?


The Poetry in the Minefields (in Arabic) can be purchased  from Amazon

View more footage of the poets reading here.


Haider Catan
, an Iraqi-born poet and academic, came to Australia to work on a research project in psycholinguistics and memory. Catan has enriched his experience of poetry in English by working with Wollongong poet Tim Heffernan. Their translations have been published by Red Room Company and Verity La.

Tim Heffernan is a Wollongong poet and recipient of the 2016 joanne burns microlit award. Tim was very proud to have his poem ‘Butterflies in Iraq’ published with Haider Catan’s ‘Purple Breeze’ in Out of Place, Spineless Wonders’ 2015 prose poetry and micofiction anthology. As well as joining together in translation we borrow from each other in our lives and our poetry





Apologies, I forgot you exist
(Fleur Beaupert)

Posted on March 10, 2017 by in Discoursing Diaspora

On the verge of this sheer pink
dress fits my childhood fantasy

glass slipper | Inside it

I’m so brown I’m clear White gold
un dress | B(l)onded into celibacy

I’m so blonde I’m pure Blackness
so blue black invisible I explode

in a WHAM!

I’m so B(l)ond I’m action shot awe
mega secret gadget car chase galore

I’ll turn those Batwings you gave me
into | Angel | I am so food so smooth
so smoothie mmm so #street dope

You’d be cute in our commercial
but we can’t find a mum
of your shade of shade of shade

I’ll be your best friend bodyguard
Illegal Maid Refugee Gangsta
I’ll dance in the #toostreet boulevard

of Beatnik diversity | I could be a fairy

Princess from a parallel universe
Don’t PC me | I’m sorry sweet
Seeking: Preferably Blonde Fairies

I rehearse | I rehearse


I’m dancing dancing dancing
in the #toostreet where I exist
as universal | Red Riding | I am

the hood | Your curved transversal
un dream | I resist your fantasy
that cannot transcend its own lack

of imagination | I am | I can | I exist |

The only barrier to me playing Ophelia
is the colour of your text | The texture
of your lie | The truth born of your

starvation | How you live and let die

Taste my skin golden brown and black
My Terrorist crown glinting, in epitaph


This poem was prompted by the comment that Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play James Bond.


Fleur Beaupert is a Melbourne based poet. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in spaces such as aaduna, 404 Ink, Blue Pepper, Bimblebox 153 Birds, Regime and Cordite Poetry Review.

Exodus (David Adès)

Posted on February 10, 2017 by in Discoursing Diaspora

You hold a catacomb of memories.
I wait outside your door to catch fragments.
How much can any of us know

of what preceded? We interrogate
doors we cannot pass through,
look at shadows through keyholes.


Can I trace the path of your flight from Egypt
in the old grainy black and white photographs
of a young man and a younger woman

honeymooning in Luxor over sixty years ago,
in the French you speak with an Egyptian accent,
or those long nights playing cards in the lounge room

in clouds of cigarette smoke, the murmuring of
Egyptian voices transplanted across the world
billowing like the sail of a felucca in my childhood sleep?


You strolled along the Corniche
in Alexandria when you were a girl,
moved to Cairo,

fell down the stairs and cracked open
your head when you were ten (we can still
feel the scar through your hair),

recall blocks of ice hauled from the street
to the balcony, siestas and lazy afternoons
at The Club, visits to Groppi’s.

I imagine a world moving around you
like the intricate workings of a watch:
you were immersed in friends, community,

large family gatherings, a hubbub of siblings,
warm and close. Looking back
from this distance, it seems carefree

like the young woman in the photographs,
but I can see only shadows: and your
mother’s early death in childbirth,

your father, your beloved father.
You were caught in the spokes
of history’s turning wheel.

A plague of war came closer, Rommel
pushing through the desert to El Alamein,
synagogues destroying their records,

the threads of your life unravelling
— and further unravelling
even as Israel was being born,

even as a tide of refugees,
a great ingathering of the displaced
landed on her shores —

with waves of departure,
family splintering off to America,
to England, to Israel, one after

the other — the mass dispersion
of everything known,
everything familiar, everything.


Leaving is not a simple thing:
what is left behind? What comes
with you? What stowaways?

Affix a moment to it:
the act of leaving — boarding ship
at Port Said in 1952;

or the commitment to leaving —
the Australian crew bringing
you a birthday cake,

wishing you ‘many happy returns’
and your puzzled response:
‘I’m not going back’.

A moment as artifice:
to mark passage, to denote
before and after, despite

the continuum of leaving:
making landfall, arriving
elsewhere, continuing.


The Egypt of your childhood
receded before you left,
before you took what few possessions

you were allowed — leaving behind
what was already gone;
taking with you what you imagined

you were leaving —
and boarded the ship to your future
with hardly a backward glance.

The sea parted before you.
You were young then
and the future lengthened into

a fall of manna, a dazzling antipodean
light that you entered
and kept entering for sixty years.


But Egypt kept returning —
in accents or turns of phrase,
in phone calls,

in visitors at your door
from Brazil or Europe:
messengers from an earlier life.

In the mornings, the rich smell
of Turkish coffee — Dad going through
the elaborate ritual, the practised

science of making it, his daily gift
of smell, of taste, of texture
from another land, another time.


Curious, I went back thirty years later,
returning to the Egypt I had never left
and never known, attached by an umbilicus

steeped in history. I looked to find my face
or its echo in a Cairo crowd,
but the half life of your quarter life is short,

and there were no traces: it takes so
little time to be obliterated, for all the markings
to disappear, buried in a sea of sand.


Each year at Pesach we remember the Exodus
in ritual, in food and song, in stories:
your story overlaying the biblical —

exodus upon exodus,
always leaving, lost markings hidden
though marking generation after generation.


David Adès returned to Australia in 2016 after living for five years in Pittsburgh. He is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet and short story writer and the author of Mapping the World (Wakefield Press / Friendly Street Poets, 2008), the chapbook Only the Questions Are Eternal (Garron Publishing, 2015) and the forthcoming Afloat in Light (UWA Publishing, 2017).

David won the Wirra Wirra Vineyards Short Story Prize (2005). Mapping the World was commended for the Fellowship of Australian Writers Anne Elder Award 2008.

David has been a member of Friendly Street Poets since 1979. He is a former Convenor of Friendly Street Poets and co-edited the Friendly Street Poetry Reader 26. He was also one of a volunteer team of editors of the inaugural Australian Poetry Members Anthology Metabolism published in 2012. His poetry has been published in numerous journals in Australia and the U.S. with publications also in Israel, Romania and New Zealand.

David’s poems have been read on the Australian radio poetry program Poetica and have also featured on the U.S. radio poetry program Prosody. He is one of 9 poets featured on a CD titled Adelaide 9. In 2014 David won the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize. His poems were also Highly Commended in the 2016 Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize and a finalist in the Dora and Alexander Raynes Poetry Prize 2016.

(Mark William Jackson, Angelene Karas and Eunice Andrada)

Posted on November 23, 2016 by in Discoursing Diaspora


(edited by Ramon Loyola & Michele Seminara)

Proof of Life

By Mark William Jackson

If asked for proof of identity
I can pull a card from my sacred wallet
that lists a name, address & birthdate.

But in too many stretches, if you seek proof of life,
search their souls to find the holes
where memories were thrown like grenades,
a cavum of screams & cries where love died
in a sandstorm of politics & attempts to escape.
Huddled in the hull of a desperate raft,
holding on to family, hoping for a life.

At the end of mine, through grace and luck,
I hope to say, ‘I’ve enjoyed a full life’.
But so many, grabbing for straws,
can only dream of saying, ‘we survived’.


Because that’s where we all went

By Angelene Karas

1950s. Post-war period. The time when they came by the boatload.
28 days was how long it took to get from Kozani & Vartholomio to Melbourne.
My family, strong and determined, came to Australia when they had no other choice.

‘I came here when I was 21.’
‘Why, Pappou?’
‘Because, where else was I going to go?’
‘What happened when you got here?’
‘I worked many jobs.’
‘Were the people nice?’
‘Some were. There was a gentleman who helped me get to Melbourne from the detention centre in Albury.’
‘Why were you there?’
‘Because that’s where we all went. Our rights were shorn like fleece.’

The advice he gave me: this is the lucky country. Work hard. Be somebody.
And—especially—be better than those who came before you.


(because I am a daughter) of diaspora

By Eunice Andrada


and by default—
an open sea,
what language will not meet me
with rust?

They convince my mother
her voice is a selfish tide,
claiming words that are not meant
for her;
this roiling carcass of ocean
making ragdolls of our foreign limbs.

In the end, nothing less than our brown skin
married to seabed.

When I return to the storm
of my islands
with a belly full of first world,
I wrangle together the language I grew up with
yet still have to rehearse.
I play with the familiar rattle of consonants
on my tongue and do not think myself
a serpent.

I am lost in the strangeness of my hometown.
By the street corner, a man in
speaks to me in careful English.
Where are you going?
I don’t answer,
offended that he recognised
the mongrel flag I call my face.
I want to say to him, We are the same.
Pareho lang po tayo.

I know my bleached accent,
the dollars in my wallet
sing another anthem.

My voice is an open-casket funeral,
haunted by the questions
How long have you been here? 
How long are you staying?

I am above water,
holding onto a country that can drown
with or without me.

What they don’t tell you
about returning home
is that home will have already
forgotten your eyes,
hidden away the poems
you wrote for it.

All of diaspora has felt
it in the backs of their throats:
the joke of being unwanted in a new country,
of being unneeded in your own homeland
where the warmest pulsing thing
has already left.


I am off the coast of an island eight hours away from my grandmother’s old Parañaque apartment. The boatman says I swim well and beckons me to go underwater. He wants me to see what he sees. I unclip my vest and dive. Here, the world is prismatic and unspeaking. I kick my legs into a school of fish. It erupts into blue confetti before drawing together again. There are corals that look like bullions of gold; I remind myself, they, too, are homes for smaller creatures. There is the unrelenting deep and the uncertainty of return. There is my half-brother, Lemuel. Another love the ocean refused to return. I break the water’s skin and reintroduce myself to air. I thank him for guiding me. We make the quiet journey back to the mainland, where I plan to waste my money on cheap cocktails and souvenirs. My friend sings under her breath, just loud enough to hear over the motor engine. It is late afternoon and there is the ocean, surrounding us like a reminder. The boat slows to a halt meters away from the shore. The boatmen draw the ladder down to the water and begin to thank us, ushering light-skinned hands down the vessel. One of them turns to me, asks where my mother is from. Iloilo. He nudges the other boatman and they smile, say they could tell from the way I speak. I am reminded of my mother’s hurt. How it never failed to sound like a river, no matter how broken her voice had become. How the name for the people she had come from translates to where the water flows down. The boatman says he can tell from the way I speak. I look to my feet. They are lost underwater.


Image ©2016 Silvia Schivella

Image ©2016 Silvia Schivella

Mark William Jackson’s
work has appeared in various journals including; Best Australian Poems, Popshot, Going Down Swinging, Cordite, Rabbit Poetry Journal, Verity La and Tincture. For more information visit

angeleneAngelene Karas is a Masters of Teaching (Secondary) student in her final year at Western Sydney University. She is currently volunteering at a Sydney non-for-profit poetry based company. Her poetry has been previously published in the CrUWSible magazine and The Wild Goose e-Literary Magazine. Angelene enjoys The Simpsons, coffee and of course, poetry.eunice-andrada-1

Eunice Andrada is a Filipino-Australian poet, journalist and teaching artist based in Sydney. Her poems have been featured in Peril, Voiceworks, and Deep Water Literary Review, among others. Featured in the Guardian, CNN and other media, her poetry has also been performed in diverse international stages, from the Sydney Opera House to the UN Climate Negotiations in Paris. She was awarded the John Marsden & Hachette Australia Poetry Prize in 2014. In 2016, she was honoured by Australian Poetry as the first of their 30 Under 30 Poets. Her first collection of poetry is forthcoming. 


Posted on November 2, 2016 by in Discoursing Diaspora

photo credit: Tareq S.(Edited by Ramon Loyola and Michele Seminara)

Certain concepts of religion are for human welfare, but religious extremism is always devastating for humanity. Therefore, in the interests of humanity, we Bangladeshi secular writers criticise religious extremism and the blind following of any cult, through our poetry, our short stories, essays and blogs. This is why Al-Qaeda, ISIS and their collaborators in Bangladesh always attack secular bloggers, writers, poets and intellectuals first. Many freethinkers like us were put to death, when all we wanted to do was to enlighten the hearts of the youth of our country.

In attempting to do so we have noticed that it is not only the prejudiced and preoccupied religious political parties, but also the so-called secular government, who are afraid of us. When citizens become liberal, they no longer fear protesting against government autocracy and corruption. As a result, the Bangladeshi government has become more lenient towards extremism and has started shutting down all secular activist platforms to appease the extremists.

When there was still freedom of expression in Bangladesh, the younger generation used social media and blogs to express their opinions. The eternal battle between the rational and the radical played itself out on many blogging websites and in social media. This lead to an increased following of rational writers on social media platforms. Bloggers established the ‘Public Awakening Platform’ (‘Gonojagoron Moncho’), and the people of Bangladesh held protests against religious radicalisation in huge rallies in Shahbag.

Shahbag rallies. Image: Tareq S.

Shahbag rallies. Image credit: Kallol Majumdar

Sensing imminent danger, Muslim religious extremists led a global campaign, claiming that Islam was now an endangered faith in Bangladesh. They alleged that freethinkers, bloggers and writers, and the views they expressed against radicalism, would lead the Muslim population to become atheists. They called for immediate action to help silence writers and bloggers. Soon after, huge amounts of money came pouring in from the Middle East and other parts of the world. Terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda came forward with full force to help fundamentalists within Bangladesh.

Simultaneously, Bangladeshi political parties became concerned that votes from radical fundamentalists would be lost (even though these radicals made up only four percent of the dedicated votes cast in national elections conducted over the last twenty years). Government ministers and officials were quoted as saying, ‘Ninety percent of Bangladeshis are Muslim. Bloggers must stop hurting religious sentiments’. The government appeared to be becoming more lenient towards extremists, which had the effect of further curtailing the freedom of speech in our country. Secular writers, bloggers, intellectuals and religious minorities suffered brutal oppression, with killings and assaults of these people occurring on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, on numerous blogs and online sites, hatred towards Muslims went into overdrive. This had the unfortunate effect of helping to fuel extremism among ordinary people, the very same people who had originally supported anti-extremist blogs. Ordinary citizens became afraid of religious fanatics, a circumstance that was not assisted by the government’s stance of doing nothing to protect innocent lives and of repeatedly denying the presence of terrorist networks in Bangladesh.

Since then, we no longer feel safe in our homes or our workplaces. Death chases us at every moment. In the last three years, Bangladeshi secular writers and bloggers have spent gruesome days and nights under the cloak of fear and apprehension, with many now operating their businesses and performing their work in secret while continuing the struggle against extremism, sometimes even without the knowledge of their own families.

Isis has published propaganda images claiming to show militants in Bangladesh, which it calls its ‘Bengal’ province

Isis has published propaganda images claiming to show militants in Bangladesh, which it calls its ‘Bengal’ province

Violent extremists such as ISIS have taken this opportunity to brainwash young people with the ideology of hatred, often exalting the possibility of a caliphate: ‘Bangladesh will be the new global frontier for jihadists. Enemies of Islam like America and Europe will be devastated from here’.

The extremists’ hate for secular writers and foreigners was reiterated by the devastating murder of seventeen foreigners and three Bangladeshis in July 2016. They attacked a café in Gulshan area in Dhaka City, where jihadists shot all the hostages before slaughtering them using sharp knives and machetes. Some of the dead bodies were found to have been stabbed many times over. Of the five young jihadist culprits, four came from rich families and studied in foreign universities. Only the leader, Khairul Islam, was from a poor family and had studied in an Islamic School.

Nowadays, fanatics are targeting non-Muslims and non-practising young Muslims, with the view to converting and brainwashing them into joining the radical movement, promising eternal paradise after their suicidal death. This situation can only be tackled through knowledge and awareness; through our poems, our stories and our blogs.

With the rise of violent extremism, we, the innocent writers, have become so preoccupied with the task of preserving our lives that we are now failing to deliver our most important duty: to enlighten the youth of Bangladesh with knowledge, science and ideas in order to attain peace and prosperity for our nation.

Each year, world ‘superpower’ countries spend billions of dollars on the ‘war on terror’. But how will war solve this hatred? When will they understand that this so-called ‘war on terror’ is actually creating more terrorists? The international community needs to maintain a strong global platform to support writers at risk if they wish to counter terrorism. They need to help strengthen the capacity of free speech organizations and provide financial support so that threatened writers can be swiftly assisted.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said: ‘The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.’ Half a century later, this remains true.



Kallol Majumdar is a Bangladeshi Author.