Yasser Niksada

Panshir, Afghanistan, raised in Iran

Be next to me and see,
What has happened to me.
It is over, the trace still in my heart.
No room for me to sleep on this bus.
Withered feet, the dream sunk into the eye.
The police said stop.
Go back, go back.
All then in the train car, just me alone on the tracks.
The rubber boat sank and my heart, hot for Europe, turned cold.
The world slept, only we were awake,
Hungry, thirsty, tired.
We left; it will be more difficult to return.
All this tearing oneself up, for a little bit of rest.
Not my rest.
The rest of my family.


Translation from Farsi: Aarash D. Spanta
Foto © Rottkay

Yasser Niksada (14)

Yasser Niksada comes from the Panshir valley in Afghanistan. Ten years ago, the Niksadas fled to Teheran, where the family live as refugees. But that's no life, says Yasser. That's why the family sent him on a journey to Europe. In Germany, Yasser misses his family. Photo © Rottkay

Without You

Shahzamir Hataki

Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan

Living my life here without you,
Is difficult, father.
I am thirsty for your tears.
And to cry here among these people is difficult, father.
When you stride there and walk over thorns, father,
I feel the pain of your feet.
I wish to throw myself into your arms.
To kiss you from this distance is difficult, father.
I would tear my lips off to do it,
But to mourn without lips is difficult, father.

You are the most beautiful flower in a field of flowers.
You are the color of the sun, which bows at night.
You shine like the stars, my father,
And you are light as the moon.

Translation from Farsi: Aarash D. Spanta
Foto © Rottkay

Shahzamir Hataki (16)

Shahzamir Hataki from Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, is his parents’ only son. They wanted to secure his survival and his future and therefore sent him away. On the passage to Greece, the boat sank and Shahzamir barely escaped death. Photo © Rottkay


Samiullah Rasouli

Ghazni, Afghanistan

When I say women, I mean real women,
Those with eyebrows, real noses, and shoulders.
Who belong only to themselves from the beginning,
Who are not selfish and proud of their gifts,
Who love themselves in their simplicity,
And just want to be themselves
And not resemble another.
Those women I mean, when I say women.

The light in her gaze is like the scent of Kobeko*
Her tender hand is incomparably precious.
Her wisdom shines forth from beneath her make-up.
She walks with beauty in public.
The watering mouths of the gawkers do not bother her.
The self-confident, strong woman pursues her gifts and talents.

Some women stay at home, they dissolve
And become water.
And the ones who go out become bread and food.
And when I say women, I mean these women.

*Perfume named “Mountain to Mountain”
Translation from Farsi: Aarash D. Spanta
The Poetry Project, Foto © Rottkay

Samiullah Rasouli (17)

Samiullah Rasouli grew up in Ghazni, Afghanistan. The region is highly contested today. His father died four years ago. Samiullah was on the run for four weeks. Now he has begun training as a trade merchant. His poems are about love and longing for his father. Photo © Rottkay

Only You

Mahdi Hashemi

Ghazni, Afghanistan, raised in Iran

We now see times,
In which you are there,
And just you.

You love and you are not loved.
You feel intimacy and nobody is there,
To lean on.

You have everything. and yet you have nothing.
The wound hidden,
Behind the veil of tears,
The secret remains unread.

Translation from Farsi: Aarash D. Spanta
Foto © Rottkay

Mahdi Hashemi (16)

When he was an infant, his family fled from Afghanistan to Iran. There, he grew up as a refugee, close to the capital Tehran. Mahdi Hashemi writes about why Afghan refugees in Iran even apologise for breathing the air there. Photo © Rottkay


Kahel Kaschmiri

Ghazni, Afghanistan

If only you were here,
I would kiss your feet
I would bow before you
And kiss your face.

And everywhere you went and lingered,
I want to go and cry.

Translation from Farsi: Aarash D. Spanta
Foro © Rottkay

Kahel Kaschmiri (15)

Kahel lived in Ghazni, Afghanistan. A Taliban commander was after him. Kahel fled his country, via Iran, in the trunk of a smuggler’s car. In Germany, he is confused by the lives of Europeans. Photo © Rottkay


Ghani Ataei

Herat, Afghanistan

They killed in the village before my eyes.
Four days I could not speak.
Four days I was mute.

Until I understood.
Nobody expects anything from anybody.
And anybody can do anything to anyone.

No matter, how much older I grow,
How grown up I will be,
When I am uneasy and full of sorrow,
I will wish my mother by my side.
But I am hopeless,
When it comes to the world.


Translation from Farsi: Aarash D. Spanta
Foto © Rottkay

Ghani Ataei (16)

Ghani Ataei grew up in the old trading town of Herat, on the border with Iran. His father was killed during the war, his mother died in an accident. As an orphan, he went to Germany alone. Photo © Rottkay

Beginning of life

Mohamad Mashghdost

Bandar Anzali, Iran

The beginning of life was,
That I did not exist.

There was a mother.
She was my God.

It was an unrequited love.
There was a father.
He was never there.

The body came to rest,
But not the mind.
I was without solac.

The sister wanted to be a mother to me.
But she was tired.
I loved the mother.
She died.

I wanted to leave
And I stayed.
I wanted to stay
And I left.

Leaving was not important
And neither was staying.
I was important,
I, who did not exist.

Translation from Farsi: Aarash D. Spanta


The Poetry Project, Foto © Rottkay

Mohamad Mashghdost (18)

The son of a taxi driver from Bandar-e Ansali, Iran, set off for Europe in autumn. At home, he was afraid of being drafted into the war in Syria. In Berlin, Mohamad Mashghdost wrote some outstanding poems about the lack of meaning and his native Iran. Today he lives in Husum. Photo © Rottkay