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I AM A ROHINGYA: POETRY FROM THE CAMPS AND BEYOND

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THE PBS WORLD CHOICE

I AM A ROHINGYA: POETRY FROM THE CAMPS AND BEYOND

EDITED BY JAMES BYRNE AND SHEHZAR DOJA

In making this inaugural PBS World Choice selection, whose purpose is to honour an outstanding book of Non-European poetry and/or translation which has been previously overlooked, I especially considered the history of how I am Rohingya came to be: Shehzar Doja, Bangladeshi/French poet, and James Byrne, British poet, came to Cox Bazaar refugee camp to work with twenty refugees. So this book is the direct result of the first writing collective on record ever facilitated in the camps, since 1797. According to the editors of this book, they “quickly realized that the poets gathered in the room weren’t just making history by being part of the poetry collective, they wanted to mark history.”  - PBS Translation Selector Ilya Kaminsky

The Rohingya poets gathered here for the first time in English hold a mirror to the light for the rest of humanity, flashing their poems of misery and warning from the genocidal zone and refugee camp of Cox's Bazaar. Their songs are more accurate than news reports for word of the plight of the most oppressed. These are poems that begin with the fragrance on the bird's handkerchief and end by walking among the mass graves. They write from a dire present to a possible future, wondering in their peril if the world outside was too quiet to hear them. Let the world not be quiet, let the world listen to these poems. - Carolyn Forché

I Am a Rohingya implores the world to listen to the spirit of a people who have experienced some of the worst human rights abuses on the planet. These poems have no alternative but to speak out, they are from a crisis that must be addressed. There is brilliance in here! - John Kinsella

 

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