Call for haiku on migration and borders

(Re-published from the Passaport Project blog)

Whilst we’re documenting last Saturday’s solidarity Manifestival in front of the migrant detention centre in Findel, Luxembourg, and sifting patiently through the content we’ve received so far for Issue 2 of our artistic newspaper Le monde n’est pas rond (see the call for submissions), here’s an informal call for readers to send in some haiku on migration and borders, for possible publication in the same issue.

Languages: English, French, German, or Luxembourgish.
Translations from other languages are more than welcome.

Deadline: 21st July.

No need to stick religiously to the 5-7-5 rule; we’re more interested in concision of thought, paradox, and of course image and symbolism.

Post your haiku in the comments, or send them to mondepasrond at gmail dot com. Here are some examples to get the cogs in motion.

Detail of p. 28 of Le monde n'est pas rond, Issue 1. Illustration by Olivier Potozec 'Sader'.

Issue 1 of Le monde n’est pas rond
includes a haiku by Maltese writer Jean-Paul Borg, translated into French by myself and Elizabeth Grech:

j’ai dû le sortir
devant son regard tranchant
mon passeport rouge

(English: had to take it out / before his cutting gaze / my red passport )
(original Maltese: kelli noħorġu / quddiemu b’ħarsa mqita / passaport aħmar)

And here are some of my own. The first two are translated from the original Maltese, the last two were written directly in English.

A Syrian boy
paints houses on the canvas
of his tent.

No flag, large or small,
deserves greater esteem than
the hand that sews it.

People cross borders.
It’s been that way ever since
borders crossed people.

Dear people of Mars:
are our borders visible
in your evening sky?

Images accompanying the haiku are also most welcome. Here’s an illustration by my friend Daniel Dacio, a painter based in Madrid, of a haiku I wrote back in 2007 at the Istanbul airport. Whilst I was waiting in the immigration queue, a toddler, no more than four years old, was leaping back and forth across the customs barrier, laughing to himself as if aware of the subversion and poetry of his play. The Japanese translation is by Yasuhiro Yotsumoto.


Looking forward to receiving more ‘no-borders’ haiku!

Antoine Cassar
editor of Le monde n’est pas rond

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On editing “Le monde n’est pas rond”

photo by Paulo Lobo

photo by Paulo Lobo

The nightmares and joys of being the editor of an artistic newspaper. Rejecting submissions for lack of quality, deviation of subject, length (the submission guidelines are there for a reason!), and sometimes even for downright disrespect of the readers and fellow authors — disappointing unsuccessful submitters hurts at first, but you get used to it. Reading, re-reading, suggesting changes, filtering, ordering possibilities, linking texts with a similar theme, taking ten steps back for perspective, is an exciting but arduous process. Then there’s the tedium of organising files, keeping track of e-mails received and sent (whilst trying not to be too laconic in communication), not to mention the editing itself (fonts, punctuation, line breaks, indents…). Time expands and contracts as other, more utilitarian responsibilities call out for attention. Hopes and fears rising and falling as you write an application for funding, which asks you for an indicative draft index of the next issue, that you keep chopping and changing for thematic and geographical balance. Sometimes I wonder if I should pack it all in and spend more time on my own writing, but then again, since I began working on this newspaper, I’m actually writing more, and with greater fluidity. The constant dialogue keeps me on my feet; this very evening, I received a poem that blew my mind, and that makes all the trouble more than worthwhile. Best of all, collaborating with people I highly admire (foremost among them, the designer Marco Scerri) gives me greater faith in being human, and thus greater faith also in staying creative.

Earlier this week, someone asked me if we’re offering a fee for successful submissions, or if “this will be another unpaid content thing?”. A good and valid question. As a writer myself, I highly appreciate it when publications and festivals offer payment. I wish I was writing and editing for a living! Le monde n’est pas rond is a no-borders activist publication which we work on voluntarily, in our free time after our paid jobs, but the style and outlook are professional. The printing of Issue 1 was made possible by donations from Passaport Project, on behalf of No one is illegal – Luxembourg. We’re now applying for cultural funds to subsidise the next three issues. The first challenge is to break even. Later, if we sell enough copies and manage to make a profit, we’ll offer nominal fees for publication. Given the specific political subject matter – migration, borders, and human rights -, it won’t be easy.

artistsforjusticeMigrant artist-activists in the US (Favianna Rodríguez, Julio Salgado, CultureStrike) have managed to make a busy career out of their creative and political activity, and we see them as models to be followed; here in Europe, debate on borders and migrants’ rights remains more academic than artistic, and it will be an uphill struggle. Not to mention the ironic linguistic barriers: publishing in 4 languages (English, French, German, Luxembourgish) is as much an asset as a drawback. But we won’t give up easily. We’d like Le monde n’est pas rond to eventually become a platform for artistic debate and expression, documenting and coordinating individual efforts in different parts of Europe and beyond, in favour of softer borders, universal freedom of movement, and a world which is equally round for all, as opposed to a complex polyhedron of nation states whose size and shape varies according to one’s passport (or lack of it).

Why is the world not (yet) round? From the editorial of Issue 1 of "Le monde n'est pas rond", p. 7

Why is the world not (yet) round? From the editorial of Issue 1 of “Le monde n’est pas rond”, p. 7

The call for submissions for Issue 2 (September) of our artistic newspaper can be found here. We’ve received scores of very good poems already, but we’re particularly on the lookout for haiku, short stories, photographs, art and illustration (any cartoonists out there?), maps and infographics, and book / film / cd reviews. You’re invited to submit!

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Reality hit the hippy camp – a true story by Arndt Kremer

'Reality hit the hippy camp', By Arndt Kremer

‘Reality hit the hippy camp’, by Arndt Kremer

What happened when a full-moon party on Malta’s Għajn Tuffieħa beach was ‘interrupted’ by the arrival of a boat of sub-Saharan migrants?

Arndt Kremer, a German writer based in Malta, tells the story in Issue 1 of Le monde n’est pas rond (p. 12-13), with a good dose of humour, and an equally good dose of humanity.

Arndt’s true story links with a number of his recent poems, particularly the one featured below, entitled The colour of distance.

Issue 1 of Le monde n’est pas rond features two paintings by Andalusian artist María Bueno Castellano. If you’d like to see more of her work, have a look at her website.

The colour of distance

                                   for Ahmed, Sudan

I am the distant brother
I am the distant sister
The colour of distance
is strong, is cold, is grey
like cement covering grass

On a trembling boat
I came to you
the water, the water
has eyes that still
are looking back

Behind me the villages are burning
Behind me the images are blazing
My brothers, my sisters
are black, their ashes
lie on my hair

We were thirty fellows
nights ago, days ago
We were twenty fellows
that night when we arrived
without arriving

On your shores
I was lying
marked by hope
and belief

On your stones
I was sitting
fragile, with eloquent silence
to show you my wounds

The way you could recognize me:
a man whose blood is red
like yours

Why do you hold your muzzles
out to me? Your strength?
Why do you close your eyes
in front of me? Your mouths?

Your weighing scales, which you put me on
every day again, again & again
can show nothing more than the load
I mean for you; but I am a weight
beyond all heaviness

Against your fences
whose pattern I already learnt
to copy in my dreams
birds are flying and dying
I’m sticking their feathers
into my hair

I am the closest sister
I am the closest brother
The colour of distance
is neither white nor black
but transparent, but fragile
like glass

You do not have to give us feathers
You do not have to give us love
But give us colours
to paint your walls
your gloomy walls

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MANIFESTIVAL, 29.6.13 – Press release / Communiqué de presse / Pressemitteilung


Imagine a world where human freedom of movement is not proportional to the GDP of one’s nation state, to the geographical coordinates of one’s birthplace, or to the melanin content in one’s skin. Where people are not punished for the heinous ‘crime’ of crossing a national border. Where people are not treated as commodities, forced into the trap of trafficking and exploitation, by a system that “illegalises” people according to the whims and prejudices of national governments. Imagine a world that can call itself round, as opposed to a complex polyhedron whose shape and size differ according to one’s origins or papers.

For the children, women, and men who have found themselves imprisoned in one of the 400+ migrant detention centres that have mushroomed within and around the Schengen borders over the past twenty years, imagining a borderless world is vital, and the wait is dragging on for too long. We’d like to restore that hope on the horizon, not only in words, but in what is perhaps the most universal of languages: music. On Saturday 29th June from 14:00 to 19:00, in front of the Findel detention centre, we’ll be holding a Manifestival – a festive, non-confrontational solidarity event, to which all are invited. A series of concerts, expressing our solidarity with the people detained behind the fence. There’ll also be food and drink, book and info stands, and a creative workshop for children. The aim is to raise spirits, to celebrate our diversity, and to send a positive message, in favour of human dignity, softer borders, and a path toward global citizenship and freedom of movement for all.

Faites de la musique, pas des centres fermés! If you’re in or anywhere near Luxembourg on 29th June, come and join us!


Imaginons un monde où la liberté de mouvement d’une personne n’est pas proportionnelle au PIB de son pays d’origine, ni aux coordonnées de son lieu de naissance ni au taux de mélanine de sa peau. Un monde où les hommes ne sont pas punis pour le simple fait d’avoir franchi une frontière. Un monde où les hommes ne sont pas considérés comme des objets et désignés « illégaux » par des politiques d’Etats inhumaines qui les poussent à tomber dans le piège de l’exploitation ou du trafic d’êtres humains. Imaginons un monde entièrement rond au lieu d’une planète déstructurée hérissée de barrières qui ne laissent passer que ceux qui détiennent les « bons » papiers.

Nous souhaitons célébrer notre espoir en ce monde sans frontières avec le langage le plus universel qui soit, à savoir, la musique. Samedi 29 Juin nous organisons un Manifestival, une manifestation festive, solidaire et non violente devant le premier centre fermé luxembourgeois situé en face de l’aéroport du Findel à laquelle vous êtes tous cordialement invités. Il y aura des concerts, des stands d’informations, ainsi qu’un atelier créatif pour les enfants. Vous pourrez également boire et vous restaurer. Notre objectif est de célébrer notre diversité et d’envoyer un message positif en faveur d’une société plus juste et plus solidaire, respectueuse de la dignité humaine et du droit à la libre-circulation des personnes.

Faites de la musique, pas des centres fermés ! Rejoignez-nous le 29 Juin au Findel !


Stellen wir uns eine Welt vor in welcher die  Bewegungsfreiheit eines  Menschen nicht proportional zum Bruttoinhaltsprodukt seines Herkunftslandes, zu den Koordinaten seines Geburtsortes oder zum Melaningehalt seiner Haut ist. Eine Welt in welcher Menschen nicht wegen des Überschreitens staatlicher Grenzen bestraft werden. Eine Welt in der Menschen nicht wie Objekte behandelt werden und wegen der Kriminalisierungspolitik der Nationalstaaten und suprastaatlicher Institutionen Opfer von Menschenhandel und Ausbeutung werden. Stellen wir uns eine schrankenlose Welt vor anstelle eines immer mehr eingegrenzten Planeten dessen Barrieren entsprechend des jeweiligen Herkunftslandes mit unterschiedlich « wertvollen » Ausweispapieren mehr oder weniger leicht zu überwinden sind.

Wir möchten diese Hoffnung nach einer grenzenlosen Welt nicht nur mit Worten ausdrücken sondern auch mit der, möglicherweise universellsten, Sprache überhaupt: der Musik. Am Samstag, den 29. Juni organisieren wir ein Demo-Festival, also eine festliche, gewaltfreie Solidaritäts-Demo vor dem ersten luxemburger Abschiebezentrum nahe des Flughafens Findel zu der alle eingeladen sind. Neben Konzerten, gibt es Info-Stände und ein Kreativ-Atelier für Kinder. Auch für Essen und Trinken ist gesorgt. Unser Ziel ist es Bewusstsein zu stärken, unsere Diversität zu zelebrieren und eine positive Botschaft für mehr Menschenwürde, Lockerung des EU-Grenzregimes und globale Bürgerrechte und Bewegungsfreiheit für alle auszusenden.

Make music, not detention camps! Bis zum 29. Juni. Wir sehen uns…

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Joselinda, 34 ans, déportée à 4000 km de sa ville d’origine


De Sandie Richard, membre de Personne n’est illégal – Luxembourg.

“Nous affirmons qu’être migrant ne signifie pas
être membre d’une classe sociale spécifique
ni porter un statut légal particulier.
Etre migrant signifie être un explorateur;
ça implique le mouvement,
c’est notre condition commune.”
Article 5, Manifeste des migrants

Il y a bientôt un an, mon amie brésilienne Joselinda fêtait son anniversaire entourée de ses amies au Luxembourg. Quelques mois plus tard, elle était arrêtée, placée en détention puis déportée à plus de 4000 kilomètres de sa ville d’origine. Elle qui avait quitté son pays d’origine dans l’espoir d’une vie meilleure n’aura rencontré en Europe qu’exclusion et discrimination.

Joselinda: “Dans la mesure du possible je vais te décrire ce qui m’est arrivé au Luxembourg et qui finalement s’est terminé par mon expulsion vers le Brésil. Le 4 octobre de cette année, alors que j’habitais depuis cinq ans déjà au Luxembourg au-dessus d’un café de la rue de Neudorf et que j’étais en train de me reposer après une longue journée de travail, j’ai entendu frapper très fort à la porte de ma petite chambre. Je suis allée ouvrir et me suis retrouvée nez à nez avec sept agents de police venus inspecter le café. Ils m’ont interpellée et m’ont demandé mes papiers… J’ai présenté mon passeport brésilien et ils m’ont demandé de les accompagner jusqu’au bureau de police. Après avoir été entendue pendant un long moment au poste de police (déposition), j’ai été emmenée au Centre de rétention du Findel. J’ai été enfermée et maintenue en détention au Centre fermé pendant 2 semaines et demi, puis j’ai été expulsée vers le Brésil le 24 octobre à quatre heures du matin. Durant toute la durée de mon voyage retour pour le Brésil j’ai été escortée par des agents de police. J’ai été débarquée sans le savoir à São Paulo, une ville qui se situe très loin de ma ville d’origine, environ 4000 kilomètres!!! Après avoir passé quelques heures à l’aéroport de Gaurulhos et avoir de l’argent pour un billet d’avion, j’ai réussi à prendre un avion pour RECIFE… pour pouvoir rejoindre ma ville d’origine!! J’étais révoltée car après avoir vécu 5 ans au Luxembourg je n’ai jamais réussi à régulariser ma situation. Je pense que le Luxembourg récrimine beaucoup les migrants… J’étais venue au Luxembourg pour travailler et tout ce que j’y ai trouvé était discrimination et racisme.

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