art of resistance, Iraq

Dunya Mikhail: Tablets.

dymaxion/artwork by the amazing Hayv Kahraman/

The following is a poem Tablets by the great Iraqi poet Dunya Mikhail. I am posting it together with the great artwork by the Iraqi artist Hayv Kahraman. Coming from Iraq, both of these great women have dealt with otherness, with being a refugee, with giving and leaving a part of yourself (forever). See it in their work, acknowledge it, respect it, remember it.

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She pressed her ear against the shell:
she wanted to hear everything
he never told her.
.
A single inch
separates their two bodies
facing one another
in the picture:
a framed smile
buried beneath the rubble.
.
Whenever you throw stones
into the sea
it sends ripples through me.
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bagage
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My heart’s quite small:
that’s why it fills so quickly.
.
Water needs no wars
to mix with water
and fill up spaces.
.
The tree doesn’t ask why it’s not moving
to some other forest
nor any other pointless questions.
.
He watches tv
while she holds a novel.
On the novel’s cover
there’s a man watching tv
and a woman holding a novel.
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blowing1
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On the first morning
of the new year
all of us will look up
at the same sun.
.
She raised his head to her chest.
He did not respond:
he was dead.
.
The person who gazed at me for so long,
and whose gaze I returned for just as long . . .    
That man who never once embraced me,
and whom I never once embraced  . . .    
The rain wrecked the colors around him
on that old canvas.
.
He was not with the husbands
who were lost and then found;
he did not come with the prisoners of war,
nor with the kite that took her,
in her dream,
to some other place,
while she stood before the camera
to have her smile
glued into the passport.
.
Hayv-Kahraman-part2-10
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Dates piled high
beside the road:
your way
of  kissing me.
.
Rapunzel’s hair
reaching down
from the window
to the earth
is how we wait.
.
The shadows
the prisoners left
on the wall
surrounded the jailer
and cast light
on his loneliness.
.
Homeland, I am not your mother,
so why do you weep in my lap like this
every time
something hurts you?
.
Never mind this bird:
it comes every day
and stops at the branch’s edge
to sing for an hour
or two.
That’s all it does:
nothing makes it happier.
.
House keys,
identity cards,
faded pictures among the bones . . .    
All of these are scattered
in a single mass grave.
.
2_1
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The Arabic language
loves long sentences
and long wars.
It loves never-ending songs
and late nights
and weeping over ruins.
It loves working
for a long life
and a long death.
.
Far away from home — 
that’s all that changed in us.
.
Cinderella left her slipper in Iraq
along with the smell of cardamom
wafting from the teapot,
and that huge flower,
its mouth gaping like death.
.
Instant messages
ignite revolutions.
They spark new lives
waiting for a country to download,
a land that’s little more
than a handful of dust
when faced with these words:
“There are no results that match your search.”
.
The dog’s excitement
as she brings the stick to her owner
is the moment of opening the letter.
.
We cross borders lightly
like clouds.
Nothing carries us,
but as we move on
we carry rain,
and an accent,
and a memory
of another place.
.
How thrilling to appear in his eyes.
She can’t understand what he’s saying:
she’s too busy chewing his voice.
She looks at the mouth she’ll never kiss,
at the shoulder she’ll never cry on,
at the hand she’ll never hold,
and at the ground where their shadows meet.
.
• • •
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This poem was translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid.
All of the artwork (paintings and illustrations) is by the amazing Hayv Kahraman – visit her official website for more. For more on the poetry of Dunya Mikhail, visit her official website and the Poetry Foundation.
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art of resistance, Iraq, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria

The world(s) of refugee(s).

Yesterday was World Refugee Day. Observed on 20th of June every year, it is dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world. There are over 44 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world at the moment.

Refugees stories should be more present in media all the time, not just on this day. However – it is good to have them in the headlines and in focus atleast one day of the year.

I’ve assembled some photos, searched my way through great Magnum‘s collections, so here are refugee stories from all over the world, captured by Magnum’s photographers.

LON141140KENYA. Kakuma. Residents from Kakuma Refugee Camp watch evening screenings in the camp set up by FilmAid. 2012 (© Olivia Arthur/Magnum)

PAR447870LEBANON. Saida, 2013. Ein El Helwe palestinian refugee camp. Since 2012 Premiere Urgence NGO has built new infrastructures for drinking water and sewage in Hai El Sahon area. The camp is divided in 15 sectors. Each one is leaded by a popular comitee. Abu Icham at home with his family. (© Jerome Sessini/Magnum)

mijanmarMYANMAR. 2014. SITTWE. Rakhine State. Local area where a number of camps have been set up for the Internally Displaced People – all Muslim, who were attacked by the local Arakan people who do not want them living in Myanmar. These are Muslim children from the host Muslim population where the IDP’s have been put in camps. Fishing for small fish in a pond. (© Chris Steele-Perkins/ Magnum)

NYC144348CONGO. Dungu, Haut-Uele District. April 11, 2013. Father Benoit Kinalegu runs an orphanage for child victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). These drawings were made by the child victims of the LRA. Haut-Uele District, located in Orientale Province, is one of the areas in which the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) operates. (© Michael Christopher Brown/ Magnum)

NYC136190LEBANON. Bar-elias, Bekaa Valley, 2013. A young Syrian refugee stands behind barbwire at a small lake next to a spring where refugees collect drinking water on the outskirts of the Al-Jarrah tent settlement in the Bekaa Valley. (© Moises Saman/ Magnum)

NYC149729NORWAY. Vesteraalen. 2012. Melbu school yard. Some levels in the school have more than 50% immigrant children. In Melbu, about 200 of the town’s 2000 inhabitants are asylum seekers. In addition about 200 are permanently settled refugees. (© Jonas Bendiksen/ Magnum)

michael cristopherCENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC. BANGUI. March 21, 2014. At the M’Poko IDP camp, a mostly Christian camp located at the Bangui International Airport, children play on the runway. Anti-Balaka fighters mingle freely with the civilians there. (© Michael Christopher Brown/ Magnum)

NYC135138GERMANY,  2013. A painting in the home of Ashgar Hassanzadeh, 34, an Afghan refugee who had three fingers chopped off and 22 bones broken by Taliban threatening him for working with coalition forces. He fled with his family to Europe and was detained in Bavaria. They are now in a refugee camp in Wurzburg, Bavaria. It is the largest camp in Bavaria and refugees usually spend years there before their status is resolved and they are granted residency, or they are deported back to their home country. The refugees are housed in a barracks from the Nazi era and receive a small subsidy from the German government. There is widespread frustration and depression in the camp, including a recent suicide by an Iranian refugee and a hunger strike by another group. (© Peter van Agtmael/ Magnum)

PAR415257Somalia, Mogadishu, 2012. A young girl sweeps infront of her tent inside a over populated internally displaced camp in Mogadishu. Many IDP’s have fled into Mogadishu since it has become more safe after the African Union troops along side the Transitional Government Forces have managed to push Al-Shabaab out of the city. (© Dominic Nahr/ Magnum)

NYC136217JORDAN. Amman. June 12, 2013. Syrian refugee children living in a rented apartment in the Wadi Haddad district of East Amman. (© Moises Saman/ Magnum)

LON155227Jordan. 2013. Zaatari Refugee camp. Children drawing. One image by a 6 year old boy depicts a man being hanged. (© Stuart Franklin/ Magnum)

NYC141670IRAQ. Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan. July 29, 2013. Young Syrian refugees atop the rubble of a former Iraqi Army barracks next to the Domiz camp for Syrian refugees on the outskirts of Dohuk. (© Moises Saman/ Magnum)

And here’s a little bit more  -this is an excerpt from Brothers in hope: The story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, written by Mary Williams, and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. It is a children’s book describing a story of a young boy who unites with thousands of other orphaned boys to walk to safety in a refugee camp in another country (first in Ethiopia, then in Kenya), after war destroys their villages in southern Sudan.

“When I turned eight years old, I began to tend some small calves on my own. I cleaned them, nursed them when they were sick, and led them to the very best pastures and watering holes. I quickly grew to love these animals. Then one day everything in my life changed. “

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“Before war came, I had never seen so many people in one place. My village had only one hundred people. Now I was in a moving village with thousands of boys.  Like me, the other boys were away from their villages tending the cattle when war came.”

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I’ve said it already – refugee stories are to be shared and retold, so here are the excerpts from one more beautiful  book – The Lotus Seed  by Sherry Garland, illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi. It’s a story of a girl’s grandmother and the special significance of the lotus seed she carried with her when she escaped from Vietnam and made her way to a new country.

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“Nothing that grows in a pond

Surpasses the beauty of the lotus flower,

With its green leaves and silky yellow styles

Amidst milky white petals.

Though mired in mud, its silky yellow styles,

Its milky white petals and green leaves 

Do not smell of mud.”

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