Literature Initiative Berlin

The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay
Hanna Schygulla | Photo: Rottkay

Tuesday, 20.02.2018 • 19:00 • Schwartzsche Villa

Arrival - My home in my luggage.

Reading of The Poetry Project e. V. in cooperation with the project TalentCAMPUS 18+ of the VHS Steglitz-Zehlendorf

Introduction: Hanna Schygulla reads from Jenny Erpenbeck's »going, left, gone« and Bertolt Brecht's »Concerning the label emigrants«. As a companion of the Literature Initiative, Hanna Schygulla supports literary projects for young people. At the same time, the promotion of young refugees and the exchange with them are particularly important to her.

The young people of the writing group VHS Steglitz, the writing group Pfefferwerk and DRK, as well as two winners of the Else Lasker-Schüler Lyrikpreis will read their poems and lyrical descriptions of fate. They wrote about their flight, the arrival in Germany, about loneliness, longing, love, freedom, exclusion, responsibility and respect.

Readings will be in Arabic, German, and Persian. After the reading, a discussion will take place.

Artistic Direction: Steffi Eisenschenk, The Poetry Project
Reading of the German texts: Florian Goldberg

CityKirche Church Elberfeld Wuppertal

The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay
Samiullah Rasouli | Foto: Rottkay

Saturday, 10.02.2018 • Katholische Citykirche Elberfeld

Reading followed by a discussion: The young poets - Ghani Ataei, Mahdi Hashemi, Kahel Kashmiri, Samilullah Rasouli, Shahzamir Hataki, and Yasser Niksada - told us how difficult and at the same time exciting it is to come into our world from an entirely different one, how they try to overcome their fear of strangers, why writing is liberating for them, and also about their first heartache in Berlin. The Wuppertal poetry slammer Jan Philipp Zymny read the poems in German.

Else Lasker-Schüler-Lyrikpreis – Award Ceremony

The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay
Günter Wallraff | Foto: Rottkay

Friday, 09.02.2018 • Stadtsparkasse Wuppertal

Günter Wallraff honored the touching poems of the young poets with a flaming and, as it were, insightful speech. He also took the opportunity to criticise  the German government and its policy vis-a-vis refugees of war. Germany is not suffering from a »refugee crisis, but from a humanitarian crisis,« Wallraff said, recalling the summer of 2015, when many Germans had welcomed refugees. These helpful and liberal citizens were »still the majority,« but only then a short time later were drowned out by right-wing populist forces critical of foreigners. The author praised the promising talents of the award winners - »Your poetry opens the hearts of the people,« the Westdeutsche Zeitung quoted Wallraff's appeal: »Let us work together for a better future with those who seek refuge with us.« Westdeutsche Zeitung
The Mayor of Wuppertal Andreas Mucke read the poems in German.

»The texts are devastating, amazingly mature lyrical descriptions of fate by 14 to 18-year-old adolescents documenting the story of their escape. These poetic signs of life recall the work of German exiles such as Else Lasker-Schüler.« rbb

Else Lasker-Schüler-Gesellschaft

Sasha Waltz & Guests

The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay
Shahzamir Hataki | Photo © Rottkay

One Step Closer – Listening

Sunday, 26.11.2017 • 16:30 • Radialsystem • Studio A

Three refugee teenagers have been rehearsing with dancers of the Kindertanzcompany Berlin since September 2017. They are part of the open third room LISTENING, by Sasha Waltz & Guests, which creates an intersection between art, politics, public and private. The voices of the poets, the different languages ​​- Persian and German - the imagery of their poems and their thoughts overlap with the music, move through the space in dance. The atmosphere inside the room becomes denser, as contrasts emerge between the lightness of the dancers and the melancholy of the texts, and dissolves again as the melodies unite. The voices of Shahzamir, Yasser, and Mahdi open up a dialogue and take the audience into their world of thoughts, their experiences, their view of things.

From November 24th to 26th, Sasha Waltz invites artists, activists, and the audience for a programme of dance, music, film, conversation, and joint meals at Radialsystem V. The main topics are »The Art of Resistance« and »Empowerment of Communities«.

International Literature Festival Berlin 2017

The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay
Presentation: Susanne Koelbl | Photo: Rottkay

Refugee Authors’ Literary Reports on their Arrival in Germany

Saturday 16.09.2017 • 14:30 • 17th Berlin International Literature Festival

Young refugees presented their reports on experiences, worries and hopes associated with their arrival in Germany - Kahel Kashmiri with »The Torn Shoes«, Mahdi Hashmedi with »Shedding Skin« and Shahzamir Hataki with »Lionhearted«. The actor Matthias Scherwenikas read the reports in German. Excerpts of the reports could be read during the festival as part of an exhibition at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele.

Gedächtniskirche / Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay
Yasser Niksada, Mahdi Hashemi, Samiullah Rasouli | Photo: Rottkay

10 Years of the Foundation Telefonseelsorge / Telephone Counselling Services

12.06.2017 • 19.30 • Memorial Church

Renate Künast spoke in the Gedächtniskirche (memorial church) on the anniversary of the founding of the Telefonseelsorge crisis hotline, an event at which the young poets Mahdi Hashemi, Yasser Niksada, and Samiullah Rasouli also recited their poems. Full of respect for the dedicated work of the telephone counselors and visibly touched by the readings by the young poets, the politician shared her ideas of successful cooperation in Berlin. The philosopher Florian Goldberg read the poems in German.

Long Night of Ideas

The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay
Photo: Rottkay

12.05.2017 • 19:00 • Auswärtiges Amt

An event of the Federal Foreign Office on the occasion of the Long Night of Ideas, in which contents of Foreign Cultural and Educational Policy were presented, showing links to culture and education in Germany. The Central Office for Schools Abroad has developed the language learning program »German language diploma« for Welcome Classes. During the long night, various language and cultural projects with Welcome Classes were presented jointly with other partners. The philosopher Florian Goldberg read the poems in German.

Federal Office of Administration

versfest Berlin

The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay
Susanne Koelbl with participants of the versfest 2017 | Photo: Rottkay

Reading and Workshop

20.03.2017 • 11:15 • Collegium Hungaricum

The Poetry Project workshop at the Versfest marked the starting point for cooperation with schools that want to use the Poetry Project in their integration work. One to two Persian-speaking girls and one to two Persian-speaking boys from grades 8-13 were able to attend the workshop. In addition, up to 150 pupils from grades 8-13 as well as any other interested members of the public were able to participate in the event as audience members.


Box Freiraum – Iran

The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay
Interview with Ghani Ataei | Photo: Rottkay

Refugees in Iran

07.02.2017 • 19:00 • Box Freiraum

Iran is one of the most important host countries for Afghan refugees. Millions of Afghans have left their homeland to seek protection in their neighbouring country. But only one third of them have a residence permit; many move through the country illegally, working as day labourers. There are tensions between the Iranian majority and the Afghan community. Not only few see them as a burden on the system and as competitors for scarce resources. At a young age, the poets of »The Poetry Project« have crossed Iran as refugees. Today, they live in Berlin, expressing their experiences in poetry, thus building on Afghan and Persian traditions. Reading and conversation with Jamaluddin Sajjadi. The actress Lydia Schamschula and the philosopher Florian Goldberg read the poems in German.

Goethe Institut

International Literature Festival Berlin 2016

The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay
Mahdi Hashemi, Yasser Niksada | Photo: Rottkay

Children´s and Young Adult Program

16.09.2016 • 11:00 • Haus der Berliner Festspiele

The young poets performed for the second time at the International Literature Festival Berlin 2016, this time in front of a completely different audience, which mainly consisted of school classes. After this reading by the young poets, dozens of young people spontaneously formed long queues in front of the book table. Berlin students queued to purchase one of the poetry collections of the Berlin anthology The Poetry Project and to ask the refugees for an autograph. Many wanted to know more about the authors and even asked them for their phone numbers.

It suddenly became clear: if poems can foster this kind of mutual human interest, they will not only be able to do this at a literature festival, but elsewhere as well. Of course, the best place for this is the school and anywhere where refugees and German citizens regularly meet.

The actress Lydia Schamschula and SPIEGEL Foreign Correspondent Susanne Koelbl read the poems in German.

Berlin Literature Festival 2016 – Opening Event

The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay
Samiullah Rasouli | Photo: Rottkay

06.09.2016 • 21:00 • Haus der Berliner Festspiele

The opening event of the International Literature Festival Berlin 2016 was the »The Poetry Project«, in which Ghani Ataei, Mahdi Hashemi, Kahel Kashmiri, Samilullah Rasouli, Shahzamir Hataki and Yasser Niksada from Afghanistan and Iran recited their poems. The actress Lydia Schamschula and SPIEGEL Foreign Correspondent Susanne Koelbl read the poems in German.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper reviewed the performance as one of »touching and dramatic poems that give an idea of ​​the journey and bring us closer to the people who wrote them ... Testimonies of the current humanitarian crises. But their culture is also transmitted through poetry, because - although some of the young poets only wrote their first poems and have not always enjoyed a continuous education - the texts reflect the cultural tradition they originate from. Similar to the better-known Persian style of poetry, these poems are narrative and prosaic without losing their poetic character.« FAZ

First Public Reading

The Poetry Project | Foto © Rottkay
Shahzamir Hataki, Susanne Koelbl | Photo: Rottkay

17.05.2016 • 19:00 • Box Freiraum • Preview

The first public reading with Ghani Ataei, Mahdi Hashemi, Shahzamir Hataki, Kahel Kaschmiri, Mohamad Mashghdost, Yasser Niksada and Samiullah Rasouli. The actresses Julia Huston and Mira Wichers read the poems in German.

»What they recited was not Oriental floridness but not Western cool either. It was shocking because it brought up experiences that would break others.« Süddeutsche Zeitung