Authors and literature experts from East and West gathered last Wednesday at the Kunstraum Box Freiraum in Berlin-Friedrichshain. They exchanged their texts about how literature can contribute to understanding the current events that brought so many refugees to us.

The poetry evening was named after Goethe's major collection of poems: "West-Eastern Divan".

Poets living in Berlin read their very personal texts about arriving in Germany, remembering the war, the nightmare from which they fled. They talked about the destruction of their country, which goes much deeper for them than just losing a piece of land. What happens when violence forcibly uproots one's own roots?

Goethe expert Gustav Seibt and literature translator Mustafa Al-Slaiman read Goethe's poem "Hegire" bilingually.

Ayham Majid Agha wrote about the search for shelter and comfort in a foreign land and intimate impressions from his homeland, Syria. Kefah Ali Deeb, also from Syria, described her nightmarish memories of her flight, and how she was arrested and tortured in Damascus in the months before.

The young authors of The Poetry Project presented their texts, describing how different their lives were in their homeland compared to their lives here, for example in the dialogue between Kahel Kaschmiri, 17, from Afghanistan and Berliner Michael Krasnov, 18. Our new author Rojin Namer, 15, read about how she was sent from Syria to Berlin by her parents three years ago, and how the family's expectations weigh on her shoulders.

To conclude the evening the former director of the Berliner Festspiele, Joachim Sartorius, quoted poems - read in the original by Mustafa Al-Slaiman - by the great poets of Syria: Adonis, Nizar Qabbani, and Mohammad Al-Maghut.

The renowned musician and composer Ashraf Kateb from Syria took the audience on a journey of his own kind with his violin, reminiscing about places and people who are no longer here.