Stavanger was the first city in Norway to become a city of refuge for persecuted writers, in 1996. Sølvberget Library and Cultural Centre, which manages the programme for persecuted writers and artists in Stavanger, recently invited a new writer who can live and work safely and freely in the city for the next two years. While the world is paralysed by the corona virus, he/she is now in a limbo, waiting to travel and arrive safely in the city. How does the global health crisis affect you when on the run, already in a dangerous and insecure situation? Are you entitled to protection and health care?
For writers and artists who have already started a new life in one the ICORN cities, what is it like to be in exile in a foreign country when a global health crisis occurs, to be far away from family and friends in the home country? What does someone who has experienced war and persecution think about people’s reaction to fear, insecurity and restricted freedom in their new environment?
With point of departure in these questions, Stavanger City of Refuge and Kapittel have invited 11 writers, journalists, cartoonists and film makers to make a digital diary using their own expression to report from their every day life during the corona crisis. The project is called Forbidden Voices in the Time of Crisis, and the contributions will be published every Wednesday from 15 April until 16 September.
The invited contributors are writers and artists in ICORN residency and two who are currently waiting in between countries to arrive in Norway.
Freedom of expression in times of crisis
The aim of this project is to uphold freedom of expression during a difficult time, and to offer an insight into how the corona crisis can be experienced by people fleeing, in exile or stuck in between countries because of closed borders.
All contributions will be collected in a print version, which will be launched at Kapittel, Stavanger festival of literature and freedom of expression, by journalist and author Jan Zahl, who is one of the author behind the book Forbidden Voices – travels to the frontiers of expression.
You can follow the digital diary on Sølvbergets webpage
Quarantine, curfew and new Corona lifestyle!
By: Manal Al-Sheikh, Iraq/Stavanger/Oslo
Launched 15. april 2020
In the span of those two weeks, my life moved in a new direction that I had never experienced before. Suddenly, all the flashbacks from my childhood where the images of war and chaos were rampant came rushing back.
Read Manal's digital diary on Kapittel's webpage
Manal Al Sheikh
Iraqi poet and writer Manal Al-Sheikh was born in Nineveh in northern Iraq and earned a degree in English-Arabic translation from the College of Arts at Mosul University. She has worked in the local and wider Arab press as a freelance journalist. She has published creative and literary articles and texts in many Iraqi, Arab, and European newspapers and magazines, and participated in many cultural festivals within and outside her native country Many of her poems and essays have been translated into several languages, including English, French, Norwegian, Catalan, and Italian.
Al Sheikh was ICORN writers in residence in Stavanger 2009-2011. She now lives in Oslo, Norway and works at Aschehoug publishing house, as editorial secretary for Samtiden Magazine. Her books include the poetry collections With a red dot under his left eye (2010) and Undelivered Letters (2010), as well as the essay collections Deviation of Coffins, The Gates of Antioch Night and Books of Seclusion.
“The foreigner of foreigners” I once wrote. - Edmond Jabes
By: Omid Shams, Iran/Århus/Portsmouth
Launched 22. april 2020
It was then when I accepted it. Just like Harry Callahan. I removed the badge of being a native and threw it away. I became a foreigner for the rest of my life. A foreigner doomed with bringing calamity. That’s true. It lives inside me and goes wherever I go.
Read Omid's digital diary on Kapittel's webpage
Omid Shams is an author, artist, literary critic and freelance journalist. He holds an MA in American Studies from the University of Torino, Italy and has published several books, which include poems, novels, and translations of prominent American authors into Farsi, like Ginsberg and Bergstein. He has written numerous essays on poetry and critical theory, all published in various literary journals, magazines, as well as online. He has been co-editor of literary magazines, including Zendeh Rood, Bidaar and Dastoor.
After experiencing threats and assaults from the authorities in Iran as a result of his writings and engagement in the human rights situation in Iran, he fled his home country for Europe. Shams was ICORN writers in residence in Stavanger 2014-2016. He is currently law academic at the University of Portsmouth specialising in freedom of expression, modern and indirect methods of censorship.
Covid 19 at the International Criminal Court
By: Mohammad Habeeb, Syria/Stavanger
Launched 28 April 2020
- I defend myself by telling facts, not by rhetorical speech. Throughout history, you have killed each other by using anthrax, plague, mustard gas, sarin, etc. You utilize science to produce mass destruction-weapons. Today, you discover that you have dispelled your immunity by manufacturing and consuming medicines that heal a little but hurt a lot. Still, you keep trading these medicines to multiply your wealth at the expense of each other's life.
Covid-19 in its court defence
Read Mohammad's digital diary, a manuscript for a play, on Kapittel's webpage
From Climatechange to Coronavirus, Hopefully Lead to a New Cleaner Planet
By: Khalid Albaih, Sudan/Copenhagen
Launched 6. May 2020
Read Khalid Albaih's article in Al Jazeera Your 'new normal' is our 'old normal'
By: Ali Dorani aka Mr. Eaten Fish, Iran/Manus Island/Stavanger
Launched 19 May 2019
Find Ali Dorani's whole cartoon series on Kapittel/Sølvbergets website