This Saturday, The Poetry Project collaborated with Schamoni Film and the PEN-Zentrum Deutschland to organize a reading ‘Against War and Violence’. The Poetry Project poets Rojin Namer, Robina Karimi and Shahzamir Hataki read texts alongside PEN-Prizewinner Dr Stella Nyanzi and Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, as well as Eron Kiiza. The evening’s topics were violence and war – in Uganda, Syria and Afghanistan. 

PEN-President Deniz Yücel and his wife Dilek Mayatürk-Yücel attended the reading. Yücel asked whether, having witnessed pain, one could write about happiness and beauty. Dr Stella Nyanzi answered that one finds beauty and happiness even in pain, especially through the act of writing. Young Syrian poet Rojin Namer answered: “One writes to process things. Happiness is not an emotion one needs to process.” 

Thank you to Timothy Grossmann of the BABYLON Berlin, who allowed us to use their mirrored room for our reading, which created interesting spatial and semantic parallels. The room reflected one truth across different worlds: the fact that violence and persecution – regardless of whether they’re caused through war, state brutality, or the absence of statehood – destroy the possibility of self actualization. An exciting, successful evening.