Tag Archives: refugees

Destitute by Manohari

Destitute by Manohari

I am a three – day refugee
successful in saving my life;
a poem wells within it.
Those who saw my house say
its nose is broken
I understand
that the flower plants I nurtured
have been eaten by cows
I own no sky
Even the air I breathe
belongs to someone else
Having lost ninety thousand stars
and the sky
and you
How can I write poetry?
Having lost my butterfly
and the lizard that dwells
in a cranny of my bed
how can I write poetry, o moon!

Translated from Tamil by S. Pathmanaban, in an anthology of Tamil Sri Lankan poetry, found online.

Poems for South Asian refugees and asylum seekers

Every year Berlin’s International Literature Festival has a public reading event. This year’s focus is the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers from Europe and around the world. I’m going to focus on South Asia. I’m creating a list of poems on themes of loss, journeying, return, home, by poets from Kashmir, Bangladesh/Bengal, Sri Lanka/Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Tibet, Myanmar/Bangladesh. Please share your favourite poems from these regions, in English translation of course.

I haven’t decided where I’m going to do this but I will soon and I hope my Berliner friends will be there (either outside the Indian embassy, or perhaps in my new home, which may be somewhat symbolic/dark/poignant…hmmm..)