Our current featured writing is by poets Fathieh Saudi and Fatemeh Shams.

Poems by Fathieh Saudi

Daughter of the Thames

One day at sunset a grey
shadow arose from the river
transparent, its water turned into
a mirror of my life, this river
dark water, muddy water, troubled water,
where I dreaded the end of life.

The river has halted its flow,
silent for a second,

sparkling in another,
light erupts form the depths of the water,
bursting through the invisible.

Stillness offers me a final choice
the river gives me a safety net

laughing waters send me warmth
and connect with my soul.

I become, in that moment,
the daughter of the Thames.



To Mona Saudi

My childhood taught me the alphabet.

Beirut taught me the language of life,
for her I raise an altar in my heart.

How does a city come to be in pain,
like you and I?

Beirut city of the soul, my body embraces you.
What am I –

observer or witness?
Can I stop consciousness knocking on my heart?

What can we do to stem the flood?

In Beirut I saw the walls of the world
built with bombs, with burning iron.

In Beirut I understood the meaning of life.
I touched the human essence.

Beirut, O remain with me
protect the rhythm of my soul.

For the sake of hope,
of a just world without walls.

Poems by Fatemeh Shams

Translations by Dick Davis

The Wager

We were alive, but within ourselves we had died
We’d choked down the outlawed words we were forced to hide
We were alive, but silent, alone, and homesick,
Disheartened by the scars we’d endured side by side
We were shoulders, embraces, tears, and our cries, alone
In a strange town, suffering the wounds that we bore inside
And though horror and fear made their nest in our souls
We would not believe in our loss, defeat was denied
We stood and we died so that life would take hold, making
The wager, in this solitary grave where we’ve died.

The Refugee

The loss of a person’s worth, his future lost in those seas,
The loss of the boat of a child of refugees
The loss of a doll’s hand in the depths of the ocean,
In the depths of its death-filled profundities
The loss of a step on the way to the mountains
The luckless at the borders, the loss of all kindnesses
Two burned wings are little enough from the world to have,
Migratory birds, with no visas overseas
Migratory birds on the way to nowhere, birds
Scattered and lost in nowhere’s immensities
Their backpacks are empty of spring and of laughter
Their backpacks are heavy with pain, uneasy anxieties
Homeland is a sad past with no end
Homeland: the heart-breaking loss of the refugees.

When they broke down the doorThese poems appear in Fatemeh Shams’ poetry collection When They Broke Down The Door (Mage Publishers, 2016)
From Mashhad, Iran, Fatemeh Shams won the silver medal in the Iranian national Literature Olympiad in 2000. After graduating in sociology from Tehran University, Fatemeh pursued post-graduate studies in London and Oxford where she taught Persian language and literature. In the 2009 post-election turmoil, Fatemeh and her family were targeted by the state for supporting the Green movement. Fatemeh was then forced into exile. She won the Jaleh Esfahani poetry award for the best young Persian poet in 2012. Her first book of poetry was published in 2013 under the title of ’88’. She holds a doctorate in Persian poetry and is currently a Visiting Teaching Fellow at SOAS and at the Courtauld Institute, University of London.