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Articles tagged "Exile"

Does “Immigrant Writing” Exist?

Image: Immigrants on the Steamer Germanic, illustration, 1887. Wikimedia Commons. This month’s issue on migration to and within Italy revisits a frequent WWB topic. It’s an endlessly variable subject, as diverse and specific as the people and countries involved. With this in mind, we’re returning to Saša Stanišić’s bracing “Three Myths of Immigrant Writing: A View from Germany,” from November 2008. A...

I Am a Refugee

My apologies, Sir, That I come to you As a refugee. Accept me as a human being and not As a slave. Do not look down on me; Do not look me up and down. I am a poet; My testimonies plaster the walls, And people far and wide recite my poems. Will you accept me among you As a refugee? They destroyed my poems, along with the walls they hung upon; When they torched the verses, I burned with them. They broke my mind; They robbed my thoughts; They stripped our insides. Will you accept me among...

The Memory of Our Land: Writing in and from Exile

In late May I attended a writers’ conference in Sozopol, Bulgaria, sponsored by the admirable Elizabeth Kostova Foundation. Sozopol lies on the Black Sea, less than two hundred miles south of Constanța, Romania—better known as the ancient city of Tomis, where Ovid spent the last part of his life in exile. (As we sat on the lush hotel patio, looking out at ruins and the water beyond, I did have the uncharitable thought that—aesthetically, at least—Ovid...

The Witness

He rested in wildflower-whelmed cemeteries in the yards of wooden churches. —José Antonio Ramos Sucre, “El peregrino de la fe” When I chanced upon a weblog, whose text was also written out longhand in John Alejandro’s notebook, I discovered how the circumstances surrounding the strange case of María de los Ángeles could be reconstructed, or an idea put forward of what might have happened, by applying the speculative techniques of certain gothic...

Exile is Born at This Moment

Oh, my love, while you are in my breath, I am a statue of snow at the entrance to Damascus, with eyes closed, nose breathing anger, ears tuned to the noise of death, mouth speechless, trying to say: when blood is exiled, nothing binds it to the race. With you in my breath, my every moment is absurd. Uselessness rehearses images in my mind. On the screens I watch Metal snow falling. Ink is a dimming light. Eyes do not see yet fill with images. Oh, eyes, you are also covered by the snow of...

Exilium Ergo Sum

In Cuba, I was an exiled writer. First, because I wanted to isolate myself from that pair of collective hypnoses called the literary field and the national tradition. In Cuba, I didn't need to sail so much as to sink my way upstream. To think dangerously. To fight against the consensuses of the correct, the same in aesthetics as in politics. To be a freak. To practice the word till it was made unknown and, thereby, recognizable. Like someone who invents a new language and must imagine...

The Poet Cannot Stand Aside: Arabic Literature and Exile

Fourteen hundred years ago and more, the poet-prince Imru’ al-Qais was banished by his father. The king exiled his son, or so the legend goes, in part because of the prince’s poetry. Thus it was that, when the king was killed by a group of his subjects, al-Qais was traveling with friends. Al-Qais returned to avenge his father’s death, but afterward spent the rest of his life in exile, fleeing from place to place, writing poetry and seeking support to regain his...

Exiled in Europe: An Interview with Three Women Writers

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has often examined the question of exile in essays and articles. Exile is indeed a place, he has written, a desolate space where one must confront the question: “Is there a moment when you know intuitively and accept that you have now truly arrived in exile?” He also suggests that a writer’s temperament is that of “a creature in a permanent state of exile,” since his or her real vocation is the eradication of the barriers of reality....

The Curse of the South

“Two kinds of people live in this city: The ones who were born here, and those who came here, fleeing something. Me, I wasn’t born here!” When his fever peaked and he started to sweat, at night, the truck driver’s assistant brought him to the closest clinic along the road. The doctor received him and asked him his place of birth. He didn’t answer,but simply exposed his right shoulder to show him his tuberculosis vaccination scar. Mary, the tall Italian girl....

Mad Marathon

And my window flees Followed by my doors My chair is in a rush, too I’m left standing in the middle of a bare room The room can’t withstand the volume of the loneliness It starts shaking Badly Threateningly Urging me to leave, too But where to I can’t open my doors Can’t fly away from my windows The room leaves, too I utter these words: Mad marathon Mad marathon July, 2014

Chicago: Present-Day Paradise, Future Magic

The great Iraqi writer Mahmoud Saeed was imprisoned in Iraq six times between 1959 and 1980. He left Iraq in 1985 and has lived in Chicago since 1999. He wrote this essay on the eve of his departure to spend a semester as the first writer-in-residence at the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani.—The Editors Chicago awarded me its love, the way beauties do, because she is a playful, mercurial, liberated, enchanting maiden. From icy weather of twenty degrees below zero to heat...

On the Fourth Day

He arrived on a golden-yellow tricycle and offered to tow me. Frail sexagenarian, sickly thin frame, angular face, his craggy skin suggesting an old case of the chickenpox. A lightly broken-in cowboy hat made him look like a worn-out pistolero straight out of a Sixties Western. “Hop on board my taxi!” he said. I declined the offer, suggesting I walk beside him while he rode the tricycle. The man invited me to dine. Difficult to refuse such a priceless invitation given the...

Bag of the Nation

I took the big bag that I had inherited from my grandfather down from the attic. It was brightly colored like a storm of rainbows. I hoisted it onto my back and went out into the street. I closed my eyes and began to choose samples at random from everything that was inside: humans and stones and dust and flowers and wind and the past and the present and the future. I carried the heavy bag on my back and set off on a far-ranging journey around the world, proudly carrying the overflowing...

Fragile States: Artwork from freeDimensional

Organized by freeDimensional, Fragile States is a group exhibition with artists from Iran, Burma, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Syria, and Malaysia. Fragile States explores the physical and psychological experiences of persecution and forced displacement. The artists featured in the exhibition share a common experience of having to leave their country of origin after facing threats, violent assault, imprisonment or torture as a result of using their creative practice to voice the...

War

Men plan wars And women survive in the rubble One day there will be no men And a woman will pursue another In search of the scent of the last man Who touched his lips to her neck. © Manal Al-Sheikh. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2014 by Angham A. Abdullah. All rights reserved. 

My Body

A body that is the one I borrowed the first night with you . . .  I watch it every night running toward a waveless sea where the sand of age rests in its veins . . . The wearied ships land in its eyes and summon it to sleep . . . © Manal Al-Sheikh. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2014 by Angham A. Abdullah. All rights reserved.

On Death

When we die the words we haven’t said yet turn to bubbles to inflate the body and smuggle it from the grave while the cemetery keeper sleeps. But we run up against the stone slab over our bodies, which refuses to budge. So we turn to the insects for help though we’re not very fond of them; a worm here, another there,
 and each one gnaws at one of these words and leaves nothing behind— 
 nothing but erasers piling up to form a skeleton that comes home from...

Downtown

My share of sleep: four hours eleven minutes.
 I roll my pierced heart across the bedcover: it slams into the door, leaving
 a line of mud behind. I believe a tree
 will come one night and stop
 beside the line.
 Another tree
 will follow,
 and a third,
 a fourth, a ninth, etc.
 One night the line will grow
 and become a street. One night while I’m sleeping friends will stream out of my head
 and into the street to...

A Stray Bullet

After crossing the living room, the library, the corridor and the photo that brings us together on a trip to Nahr al-Kalb, and after passing by the washer and my mother (exhausted in spite of the washer), a stray bullet veered slightly off course— by the force of gravity— and finally settled in my head to kill you there. © Mazen Maarouf. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2014 by Kareem James Abu-Zeid and Nathalie Handal. All rights reserved.

Cyarwa cya nyarwaya

Cyarwa is the birthplace of my mother. She left when she was two years old and came back when she was forty, accompanied by her older brother. This poem is the story of their return after years of shared exile, in Burundi, Belgium, Ivory Coast, and France. Your daughter returned this morning Your son embraced you once again Cyarwa cya nyarwaya Your stories flow in the blood of my dear ones Your roots are written in the lines of our hands Cyarwa cya nyarwaya You, the land of my grandfather...

Identity

Distance, miles,  Songs of a Land that is not mine  Pain of exile.  Let me tell you who I am,  I am a child of exile.  I am the child of an encounter  Ivory Coast held me in its bosom  Rwanda, today, lets me tread on its soil.  Melting pot, meeting of cultures, are mine, Me!  I am diaspora!  Difference and Tolerance weave my life and blend in harmony.  Daughter of contrasts and colors  Of sadness and sweetness  Of odors and...

A Coward’s Repentance

He had been watching me for a while, but I hadn't noticed him.  I was busy chatting with my cousin Astrida on the doorstep of her store in the center of the capital.  In Kigali, to greet an acquaintance means to ask her what is happening in her life at the moment.  Has she had children since...  No one says the word "genocide" in this context; people tend to say "since then," and right away the other person understands the reference to that catastrophic spring. ...

White Sand, Black Stone

The young officer was reading the pages of my passport diligently, scrupulously, as though they were the pages of a gossip magazine or a cheap novel. He held them up. He looked at them against the light. He scratched them hard with the nail of his index finger. It occurred to me that at any moment he might fold over the corner of one of the pages, marking it, as though planning to return to his reading later. You travel a lot, he said suddenly as he went over all the stamps. I didn’t...

Between Two Worlds: An Interview with Goli Taraghi

Nahid Mozaffari spoke with Goli Taraghi on the telephone in October 2013. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation. Nahid Mozaffari:  Ms. Taraghi, you are one of the very few Iranian writers who has had the experience of exile as well as the experience of living in Iran after the revolution of 1979. You spend much of your time in Tehran, publish your work in Persian, teach, and have a large readership in Iran. At the same time, you frequently travel and spend time in...

From the Archives: Exiles

This month’s North Korean defectors join the numerous WWB contributors writing in exile. Most of April's Iraqi writers, many of November's banned Chinese writers, virtually all of our July and August 2011 Arab Spring authors, and many others write from countries not their own. Some are political refugees, expelled from their countries, often after brutal prison terms; others emigrated voluntarily, if not happily, fleeing starvation, oppression, poverty, and political and...

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