The Poetry Project

Rojin Namer

Rojin Namer | Foto © Rottkay
Photo © Rottkay

Rojin (*2002), the eldest of five children and originally from Kamishli in the Kurdish region, fled alone from Damascus. Rojin means »sunshine«, and Namer means »tiger«. Until her flight, Rojin had lived as a refugee in Iraq with her family. In response to the horrors of war and the escalation of the situation after 2013, Rojin set out for Germany with her uncle in 2015 at the age of twelve. Their journey, via Turkey, Greece, Serbia and Austria, lasted about twenty-seven days altogether. She spent ten days in prison in Athens and had to continue her flight to Germany alone. Today she lives in a home run by the charity Caritas in Berlin, is a successful participant in debating competitions, and would like to study philosophy. In everyday situations, for example when she hears the sound of aircraft, her fear and memories of wartime days sometimes  return.
In 2019 Rojin Namer was awarded the THEO (Berlin-Brandenburg Prize for Youth Literature) in the category »linguistic space«.


Rojin Namer  Kamishli, Syria   How shall I describe Damascus? How shall I describe paradise to those who do not ...


Rojin Namer Kamishli, Syria   I travelled for a long time. For days I walked. For days I sat on ...

Yasser Niksada

Yasser Niksada | Foto © Rottkay
Photo © Rottkay

Yasser Niksada (*2002) comes from the Panshir Valley in Afghanistan. Ten years ago, the Niksada family fled to Tehran, where they still live as refugees. But this is no life, says Yasser. That is why the family sent him, then aged thirteen, to Europe. It was a difficult journey by land and sea. For Yasser, one of the main differences between Tehran and Berlin is the absence of his two brothers and sisters, but most of all he misses his parents. Now sixteen years old, he is at school in year nine and after taking his leaving certificate would like to start an apprenticeship as a car mechanic. In the poems that he writes in Persian, his native language, Yasser takes up the theme of being torn in different directions, and by writing comes to terms with his experiences while fleeing.


On Tehran

Yasser Niksada Panshir, Afghanistan   I myself am only the story of a refugee in Iran. I have burdened myself ...


Yasser Niksada Panshir, Afghanistan   Compared to my pain, you are small. You tell me I take everything away from ...


Yasser Niksada Panshir, Afghanistan, raised in Iran Be next to me and seeWhat has happened to me.It is over, the ...

Mahdi Hashemi

Mahdi Hashemi | Foto © Rottkay
Photo © Rottkay

Mahdi Hashemi (*2000) fled alone at the age of fifteen from near Tehran, the capital of Iran, to Germany. The story of his journey began much earlier, however; when he was only three months old, his family fled with him from Afghanistan to Iran. While Mahdi cannot remember his first flight, the impression made by the second one was all the deeper. When one night his father told him he was to leave early the next morning, everything happened extremely quickly. On the way, he imagined what Europe might look like. When he reached Greece, at the latest, he felt sure that a better future awaited him there, and the helpfulness of the people on the spot gave him hope for his new life in Germany. Mahdi is now studying in Berlin for his Abitur school-leaving certificate. One of the themes that occupies him is the question of why, as an Afghan refugee in Iran, he felt obliged to apologise simply for breathing the air there.

In 2018 Mahdi Hashemi was awarded the Else Lasker-Schüler Poetry Prize.

Like An Arrow

Mahdi Hashemi Ghazni, Afghanistan, raised in Iran   It took a month: the trip That wasn’t a trip at all, ...

Only You

Mahdi Hashemi Ghazni, Afghanistan, raised in Iran   We now see times
In which you are there,
And only you. You love ...

Rules in the Institution

Mahdi Hashemi Ghazni, Afghanistan   If you use the telephone, I’ll take it away from you! I want to go ...

Shahzamir Hataki

Shahzamir Hataki | Foto © Rottkay
Photo © Rottkay

Shahzamir Hataki (*2000) was born in Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan, his parents’ only son, and fled to Germany at the age of fifteen. As a result of the war, he was not able to attend school at home. In Greece, Shahzamir unexpectedly met his sister and her family. The siblings had not known that they had left at the same time, as they lived in different cities in Afghanistan. In 2016 they arrived in Berlin together. Shahzamir’s journey lasted three months in all, and he almost drowned on the crossing to Greece. Shahzamir means “royal place”, an expression of his father’s pride. High expectations are placed in him, as the only son. He has already gained his middle school certificate, has found a foster family and now lives in shared accommodation. His right to remain is not yet secure, and Shahzamir is much occupied with the question of whether he can stay or not. In 2018 he was awarded the Else Lasker-Schüler Poetry Prize and in 2019 the Theo prize in the poetry category.

On security and the little freedoms in Germany

Shahzamir Hataki Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan   Young women are allowed to have a boyfriend here They can go out with them ...

The Only Son

Shahzamir Hataki Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan   There were 65 people on the boat. The smuggler gestured to a mountain, There is ...

Without You

Shahzamir Hataki Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan Living my life here without youIs difficult, father.I am thirsty for your tears.And to cry here ...

High and Madness

Shahzamir Hataki Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan Love is a high and madnessAnd strange to the world,She sits there always, from dusk until ...

Samiullah Rasouli

Samiullah Rasouli | Foto © Rottkay
Photo © Rottkay

Samiullah Rasouli (*1999) was born in Ghazni, Afghanistan. For five years until the death of his father he attended school, but then had to earn money for the family. At the end of 2015, sixteen years old, he came to Germany with his cousin. Their journey had lasted about forty days. For almost a year, Samiullah had no opportunity to go to school in Berlin. All he knew about Germany in the beginning was that the language is very difficult. Finally he learned German in a welcome class. He achieved level B2 and with the help of his mentor was able to start an apprenticeship in the hotel trade. His next aims are to complete his Abitur school-leaving certificate and then study political science. The most difficult situation that he encountered in Germany was when he received the news that he was about to be deported. Only a later decision by a judge enabled Samiullah to stay in Germany. In 2018 he was awarded the Else Lasker-Schüler Poetry Prize.


Samiullah Rasouli Ghazni, Afghanistan   If you love me for my beauty, Then love me not. Love instead the sun ...


Samiullah Rasouli Ghazni, Afghanistan   When I say women, I mean real women, Those with eyebrows, real noses, and shoulders. ...


Samiullah Rasouli Ghazni, Afghanistan   A hundred kisses I send to the dust That your feet whirl up. A hundred ...


Samiullah Rasouli Ghazni, Afghanistan   We sat on the flatbed of the truck, In the desert of Nimruz, when we ...

Mohamad Mashghdost

Mohamad Mashghdost | Foto © Rottkay
Photo © Rottkay

Mohamad Mashghdost (*1997), the son of a taxi driver from Bandar-e Ansali in Iran, set off for Europe in autumn. In his homeland he was afraid of being called up for the war in Syria. After arriving in Berlin, Mohamad Mashghdost wrote several outstanding poems about Iranian sadness and his yearning for life. In 2018 he was awarded the Else Lasker-Schüler Poetry Prize. Today Mohamad lives in Husum.

Beginning of life

Mohamad Mashghdost Bandar Anzali, Iran The beginning of life was That I did not exist. There was a mother. She ...


Mohamad Mashghdost Bandar Anzali, Iran   I’ve left my home, my heart. Now it is like sleep and dream And ...

Kahel Kaschmiri

Kahel Kaschmiri | Foto © Rottkay
Photo © Rottkay

Kahel Kaschmiri (*2000) grew up in a family of eight in the Afghan province of Ghazni. A militia commander had taken against him, and Kahel, then fourteen years old, fled through Iran in the car trunk of a people-smuggler. After 29 days fleeing by car and on foot, he finally reached Berlin and had to make a life without his family. He does not like to be reminded of his first period in the city and his temporary accommodation in a hotel. Kahel does not need to do without Afghan food, as he is now able to cook for himself everything that his mother made for him when he was a child. His texts are devoted to observing the contrasts between life in Ghazni and in Berlin. Today he is a pupil in year ten, and after completing school in summer will begin training in the hotel business.
In 2018 Kahel Kashmiri was awarded the Else Lasker-Schüler Poetry Prize.

My Last Summer in Afghanistan

Kahel Kaschmiri Ghazni, Afghanistan   was hot; the rays of the sun burned so much that I could barely work. ...


Kahel Kaschmiri Ghazni, Afghanistan If only you were here, I would kiss your feet. I would bow before you And ...

Ghani Ataei

Ghani Ataei | Foto © Rottkay
Photo © Rottkay

Ghani (*2000) grew up in the ancient Afghan trading city of Herat on the Iranian border. His father was killed in the war, and his mother died in an accident. An orphan, he set off alone to Germany at the age of fifteen.
Despite working in a bakery at weekends on the side, Ghani has now successfully completed year eleven at the Ruth Cohn School for Social Affairs, and following internships in an anthroposophical kindergarten and a home for senior citizens is now well on the way to school graduation. He is interested in German philosophy and Max Weber, and would later like to become a graduate in social education.
In 2018 Ghani Ataei was awarded the Else Lasker-Schüler Poetry Prize.


Ghani Ataei Herat, Afghanistan They killed in the village before my eyes. Four days I could not speak. Four days ...

Ali Ahmade

Ali Ahmade is born in 2000 and comes from Bayman, Afghanistan. His poem describes thoughts of his mother before he boards a boat in Turkey, not knowing whether he will survive the crossing to Greece. In 2015 Ali Ahmade was among the youngest refugees arriving alone in  Germany who joined the Poetry Project. Today he is living in a residential institution in south Germany. In 2018 he was awarded the Else Lasker-Schüler Poetry Prize.


Ali Ahmade Bamyan, Afghanistan Be calm, you say to me. Reminding me that you are still there. What will be ...