Resistance: Voices of Exiled Writers

REVIEWS, 18 Jan 2021

René Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

Jennifer Langer (Editor), Resistance: Voices of Exiled Writers, (London: Palewell Press, 2020)

This is an anthology of poems and short prose texts describing the situations that led to the exile of the writer.  The suffering and loss of country, home, family members and friends along with the personal experiences of torture and imprisonment are shared with others through memory.  The anthology marks the 20 years of efforts by Exile Writers Ink to enable refugee writers to be heard and for others to understand the complexity of these experiences.  As the Afghan Suhrab Serat says,

I have no sky in which to place my star, it drowns dark: I have no  country, no land to make a grave for these cursed wounds.”

Politics is inextricably linked with the literary work of writers who fled from their country due to armed conflict, imprisonment and lack of freedom in these increasingly censored times.

The organization Exiled Writers Ink encourages cross-cultural dialogue as it did by bringing together Israelis and Palestinians living in England but with little communication among them, leading to stereotyping and preconceived narratives.

Oppression can be of many kinds; Nazand Begikhani, an exiled Kurdish Iraqi writer writes about patriarchal control in her community in the name of religion, culture, and tradition by focusing on “honour killings” of women by a family member for bringing through her actions dishonor and shame to the extended family.  Yet exile is not necessarily accompanied by freedom from traditional patriarchal structures that limited women’s lives in their homelands for as writes the Iranian Mehrangiz Rassapour “The bludgeon of inherited mores” lives on in deeply ingrained attitudes.

While many of the poems express themes of loss and displacement, there is also hope for new horizons.  As the Bosnian Anna Dumpor asks,

Have I left myself behind and where is this road taking me, to nowhere or to new beginnings and a new life?”


René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 18 Jan 2021.

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