Magazine article World Literature Today

Rohingya: Collective Voices

Magazine article World Literature Today

Rohingya: Collective Voices

Article excerpt

Translator's note: The following excerpts appear in the longer "Collective Voices" poem discussed in the interview. Some of the "Voices" are just starting to write poetry after having been denied education for years. - James Byrne

Once I was born, I survived in two worlds:

One where I have lived for generations,

Another where I am merely a refugee.

In both places, I am displaced.

Shanas, 18

Nothing left, burnt buildings, villages.

The sky is smoke,

The earth smells of burning.

The Arakan, isolated, a brand-new inferno.

AR, 27

For days and nights we ran, stumbled and hid-

Exhausted, emaciated, hungry.

Dil, 22

Old men rely on bamboo sticks,

Women cling to life, babies on their breasts.

Grandmother in a plastic basin hung by bamboo stick


The shadow of hell on earth.

Mohammed, 24

Genocide's blade doesn't choose us by our age.

He is strong, young, male and educated.

He is abducted, executed, sent to the grave. …

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