Posts Tagged ‘borders’



This October, Australia’s largest performing writers program, Word Travels’ Story Fest, is taking on the international conversation surrounding refugees. For most Australians it is impossible to understand what it is like to have to flee your home country, blinded to what the future may hold.

Through the power of creative writing, Story Fest provides a voice to those who have transformed their challenges into influential stories, and is a platform to discuss past experiences with passion, vulnerability and raw authenticity.

The weekend extravaganza will consist of multiple poetry slams, forums, discussions and a special event entitled Writing Through Fences, which will open the Australian Poetry Slam National Final at the Sydney Opera House.
Featuring three refugee poets who sought asylum in Australia, Writing Through Fences is sure to spark heartfelt discussion among the audience and other competing poets. “You will hear from people who have travelled through the darkest places in the human psyche and have found poetry to guide them to sunlight,” said Creative Director of Word Travels, Miles Merrill.

Hani Aden is a Somali writer, who wrote from Christmas Island where she was held for 13 months. During her time in detention, Aden reached to poetry as an outlet to express her emotion and pain. “I thought expressing myself through the power of poetry and storytelling was the only way many of us could walk free in this land,” she explained. Aden is performing alongside Yarrie Bangura, a young refugee, who as a child fled civil war in Sierra Leone; and Kaveh Arya, who fled Iran and became a refugee in Turkey, until he and his family migrated to Australia in 1995.

While all three poets grew up surrounded by war and danger, they agree that by sharing their stories they are bringing to light the social and cultural issues that surround refugees and seeking asylum.

“I want to let many people know seeking asylum is not a crime,” said Aden. “Together we can make change because [it is] kindness [that will] keep the world afloat.”

“I think that’s a constructive way of drawing attention to a real problem, to a real situation which we are faced with in the world, as you know, the refugee crisis is evermore alive now,” said Kaveh Arya.

Arya grew up reading from one of the only books his parents kept – a book of poems. “It was one of the only books, that they kept, that I could actually read and sort of connect to, so I started reading that book at a young age and I fell in love with poetry that way,” he explained.

In his work, poetry is an afterthought. Instead Kaveh chooses to focus on his life experiences as the primary objective, which provide a unique and effective contribution to the international conversation surrounding human rights and refugees.

As a child, Yarrie Bangura fled from her home in Sierra Leone to Guinea, where she lived in a refugee camp with her family before migrating to Australia in 2004. For Yarrie, writing best expressed her pain and enabled her to escape all the terrible things from her past. “I felt like I always had to talk about my pain,” she explained. “I had to find another way to express my pain, which was through music and creative writing – poetry.”

Bangura writes short autobiographical poems and stories, and is one half of the band Sierra Sisters, whose music has featured on several commercials and Triple J Unearthed. Her work reflects the terrifying experiences that haunt her past, and bring to light the issues that many refugees are facing today.

“I never thought that it would get to that length, that people would be interested,” said Bangura. “I was doing it because it made me feel good and it was letting out and chucking away the things that I don’t want to remember anymore in my life – or at least I don’t want to deal with.”

Writing Through Fences is opening the Australian Poetry Slam National Final, one of the most anticipated events in Sydney’s literary and performance calendar. Over the weekend, 20 of Australia’s finest poets will speak, scream, whisper and shout their way to being crowned Australian Poetry Slam Champion.

The Story Fest will also include children’s activities ranging from workshops and events in which they will learn the art of creative writing.

Word Travels’ Story Fest, and Writing Through Fences in particular, is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to immerse yourself in eye-opening and inspirational, truth-telling tales. The festival will provide a new perspective of life, and the ongoing, international issues surrounding refugees. (NB)

Oct 9–11. Info:

Oct 9, 8pm. Sydney Dance Lounge, Pier 4/5, Hickson Rd, Sydney. $30+b.f.


City Hub’s pick of the festival:
Oct 11, 7pm. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. $36-$44+b.f. Tickets:

Follow Kaveh Arya at:


cavafy copy


—Τί περιμένουμε στην αγορά συναθροισμένοι;

Είναι οι βάρβαροι να φθάσουν σήμερα.

—Γιατί μέσα στην Σύγκλητο μια τέτοια απραξία;
Τί κάθοντ’ οι Συγκλητικοί και δεν νομοθετούνε;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα.
Τί νόμους πια θα κάμουν οι Συγκλητικοί;
Οι βάρβαροι σαν έλθουν θα νομοθετήσουν.

—Γιατί ο αυτοκράτωρ μας τόσο πρωί σηκώθη
και κάθεται στης πόλεως την πιο μεγάλη πύλη
στον θρόνο επάνω, επίσημος, φορώντας την κορώνα;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα.
κι ο αυτοκράτωρ περιμένει να δεχτεί
τον αρχηγό τους. Μάλιστα ετοίμασε
για να τον δώσει μια περγαμηνή. Εκεί
τον έγραψε τίτλους πολλούς κι ονόματα.

—Γιατί οι δυο μας ύπατοι κ’ οι πραίτορες εβγήκαν
σήμερα με τες κόκκινες, τες κεντημένες τόγες
γιατί βραχιόλια φόρεσαν με τόσους αμεθύστους
και δαχτυλίδια με λαμπρά, γυαλιστερά σμαράγδια
γιατί να πιάσουν σήμερα πολύτιμα μπαστούνια
μ’ ασήμια και μαλάματα έκτακτα σκαλισμένα;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα
καί τέτοια πράγματα θαμπόνουν τους βαρβάρους.

—Γιατί κ’ οι άξιοι ρήτορες δεν έρχονται σαν πάντα
να βγάλλουνε τους λόγους τους, να πούνε τα δικά τους;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα
Κι αυτοί βαρυούντ’ ευφράδειες και δημηγορίες.

—Γιατί ν’ αρχίσει μονομιάς αυτή η ανησυχία
κι η σύγχυσις. (Τα πρόσωπα τί σοβαρά που εγίναν).
Γιατί αδειάζουν γρήγορα οι δρόμοι κ’ η πλατέες,
κι όλοι γυρνούν στα σπίτια τους πολύ συλλογισμένοι;

Γιατί ενύχτωσε κ’ οι βάρβαροι δεν ήλθαν.
και μερικοί έφθασαν απ’ τα σύνορα
και είπανε πως βάρβαροι πια δεν υπάρχουν.

Και τώρα τι θα γένουμε χωρίς βαρβάρους.
Οι άνθρωποι αυτοί ήσαν μια κάποια λύσις.



—What are we waiting for, gathered in the agora?

The barbarians are to arrive today.
—Why such inactivity in the Senate?
Why do the senators sit and pass no laws?

Because the barbarians will arrive today.
What laws should the senators pass?
When the barbarians come they will pass laws.

—Why did our emperor wake up so early
and sits by the city’s main gate
on the throne, officially, wearing his crown?

Because the barbarians will arrive today.
And the emperor is waiting to receive
their leader. In fact, he’s prepared
a declaration for him. In it he wrote
a lot of titles and honorable names.

—Why have our praetors and two consuls come out
today in their red, embroidered togas?
Why do they wear bracelets with so many amethysts
and rings with richly glittering emeralds;
why they carry expensive canes today
superbly decorated in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians will arrive today;
and such things dazzle the barbarians.

—Why don’t the famous orators come as usual
to make their speeches and have their say?

Because the barbarians will arrive today;
and they are bored by eloquent oratory.

—Why have this sudden anxiety and confusion?
(The faces, how solemn they have become.)
Why do the streets and the plazas empty so quickly
why is everyone returning home deep in thought?

Because night has arrived and the barbarians haven’t come.
A few travelers, just in from the borders,
say the barbarians no longer exist.

And what will become of us without them?
Those people were a kind of solution.

Κωνσταντίνου Καβάφη/Μετάφραση Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη
Constantine Cavafy/Translated by Manolis Aligizakis


He stood in the mirror

didn’t dare breath of our air

concerned a bit of his guilt

happy that he stole our joy

totally surprised he was

for the attention we paid

to him, and he knew it

that one day we would find out

he knew all too well, yet

he stood alone in the mirror

like the divisive archangel

his mind run to the borders

where the enemy waited

to learn all the other secrets

all our other sweet secrets