Recently, some of our poets had the opportunity to participate in an English-language event for the first time. In front of International Relations students at the Berlin campus of Stanford University, Mykhailo and Dmytro Krasilnikov and Iryna Omelyanchuk recited poetry in Ukrainian, Rojin Namer read in German, Tayebah Joya and Razia Karimi in Persian. The English translations were read by a student from Stanford University.

Rojin Namer addressed both inviting nations in her texts: "Germany, you are not what you pretend to be / As long as our friend and helper walks hand in hand with those who shed our blood / While in Hanau the blood of our children still lingers in their parents' nostrils." And to the USA, she appealed in her poetry: "You owe us more / than empty words and broken promises. / You owe us more than the tears, / shed in the Kurdish alleys. / You owe us more than the hope, / you trampled while we cried for freedom."

The moving presentations were followed by a lively question and discussion session with the students, reflecting on the writing process and the hurdles of poetry translation. "In Arabic, there are a hundred words for one feeling, in German, only one," Rojin explained her decision to write directly in German, as it makes less evident what is lost in the translation process. "Language is half culture," Tayebah added, emphasizing that translation involves much more than the transfer of individual words. These conversations continued long into the night over pizza and drinks.

Special thanks for the invitation and organization go to Stanford Berlin's Director Karen Rouff Kramer and Professor Ulrich Brückner.

Image: © Piper Holland