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November 30, 2022

Strong words as poets come out for refugees

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As Russia bombs Ukraine and its own citizens flee being called up for military service, as women in Afghanistan continue to be persecuted for their gender, as Panama says a record 150,000 migrants crossed dangerous Darien Gap this year – there is no shortage of people who are seeking refuge and asylum from war, persecution and environmental disaster. 

The annual poetry competition run by Ballina Region 4 Refugees (BR4R) also had its largest showing with more poetry entities than previously experienced and a strong showing from youth poets. 

‘This year we have received more entries than previously, including many more entries from asylum seekers and refugees, and, for the first time, many entries from young people,’ said a spokesperson for the competition. 

Ballina Region 4 Refugees poetry competition reminds us of the importance of acknowledging and supporting those who are seeking to create a new life as a result of war and persecution. 

As winner of the in asylum seeker and refugee category Afeif Ismail highlights in the poem My Name is Nadya: 

‘One night I awoke to laments and screams

At first, I thought I was still in my dreams

But then I saw terror on the face of my father

‘Run like the wind!’ cried my terrified grandmother’

Or winner of the under-18 category Rose Mealing expresses in A Sea of Pain:

‘Guns firing

People screaming

Babies crying

Then darkness’

They tell us of the different experiences of refugees and why they are asking for our help and asylum in a safer country like Australia.

The competition was judged by Juan Garrido Salgado, former political prisoner from Chile (1985), poet, translator and activist. 

‘BR4R joins Juan’s congratulations to the winners and commended poets. He describes the poems as being very moving, strong, painful and beautiful expressions of personal stories, and he notes that he is seeing new voices in our poetical lives and writing in Australia,’ said the BR4R spokesperson.

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