Southerly 79.2: Writing Through Fences – Archipelago of Letters


The island continent has created an archipelago of incarceration in its surrounding seas. This issue is devoted entirely to the work of past and present refugees.


For the digital edition, click here.



Southerly 79.2

The island continent has created an archipelago of incarceration spanning from South East Asia, Micronesia and Melanesia in the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and across mainland Australia. This issue of Southerly, titled Writing Through Fences, is devoted entirely to the work of past and present refugees in these detention centres.

The records of their experiences are devastating; their creative responses, across genres and media, are astounding. The issue also includes responses from Australian writers, activists, essayists and students, who engage with refugee writing as well as the practices and consequences of refugee incarceration.

Writing Through Fences is guest edited by the writer-activists Hani Abdile, Behrouz Boochani, Janet Galbraith and Omid Tofighian. Two of these editors have direct experience of Australian refugee detention. Three have been displaced and exiled. All four have worked for years with refugees as translators, enablers and publishers to bring the creative voices of refugees into public view and circulation. This issue presents the greatest range of new refugee writing assembled to date in Australia.

EDITORIAL: Melissa Lucashenko: Response to Writing Through Fences

Iqbal (full name withheld): “The Strong Sunflower”
Ahmad Aeinjamshid and Janet Galbraith: Excerpt from “Heart’s Tongue”
Mohammed (full name withheld): “Companions”
Sriharan Ganeshan: “Keep Walking”
Raha (real name withheld): “Friend”
Sabaa (real name withheld): “To My Special Friend”
Hani Abdile: “Oooh Old Friends”
Mohamad Haghighi: “Rainbow”
Mehran (full name withheld): “Long Dusty Road”
Mohammad Ali Maleki: “The Strong Sunflower”
Kazem Kazemi: “Unpassable Bridge” in three parts
Pius Posongan Pokris: “Bon Voyage the Papi Family”
Erfan Dana / Shams Hussaini “Animals Can Be Our Soulmates, Too”
Sigi Jöttkandt, Oscar Davis, Mohh Gupta, Elvira Berzins, Matthew Moclair-Adams, Anna Roditis, Amy Ireland: “Dear Behrouz”

Ali Froghi: “My Favourite Book” and S. (Ravi) Nagaveeran: “From Hell to Hell”
Hani Abdile, “C.C. WEEKLY: Christmas Island 4.4.2014”
Sabaa (real name withheld): “When?”
Yasmin (full name withheld): “One Strong Woman to Another”
Sabaa (real name withheld): “Newborn Baby behind the Fence VS Mr Abbott”
Alireza Ataie: “Survival”
Ahlam Mohamed: “Soaring Birds”
M.D. Imran: “Lifelines”
Moones Mansoubi: “On Translation”

Saeda Mirzai: “A Gift of Love”
Arad Nik: “Call Our Names Beautiful”
Sad Proof (real name withheld): “I Love You”
Ben (real name withheld): “Night”
Anonymous: “Testimony”
Hani Abdile: “Neighbour’s Son”
Mohammed (full name withheld): “Screaming for My Beloved Country (Sudan)”
Maria S. Kahie: “A Message from Sweet Home (Somalia) to an Unknown Sweet Girl”
Samad Abdul and Obeida Aloroj: “Peace, Freedom and Love”

Walid Zazai: “Banner”
Farhad Shah: “Which Way to Go Back?”
Kumar (real name withheld): “Separated”
Murtaza Karemi: “Mother”
S. (real name withheld): “Not Even”
Raha (real name withheld): “Without You: On Forced Family Separation”
Habib (full name withheld): “Listen”
Erfan Dana/Shams Hussaini: “Indonesia, Land of Refugee Limbo”
Sriharan Ganeshan: “Story of a Seed”
Mohamed Adam: “The Autobiography of Mohamed Adam” (Chapter One)

Naser Moradi: “New Year”
Hani Abdile: “Listen”
Abdi (full name withheld): “Why?”
Naadia (real name withheld): “Remember”
Farhad Shah: “Never Shall I Forget”
Homaira Zamiri: “The Passenger of Time”
Niro (full name withheld): “Bicycle Mechanic”
Abdul Samad Haidari: “Home—Where Else to Go?”
Erik Kennedy: “On Poems by Abdul Samad Haidari”
Victoria Grieve-Williams: “Barbed Wire: The Devil’s Rope”

Ghulam Mustafa: “We Are Not Rocks”
Rahman Tohidur: “Our Human Rights Are a Corporation to Them”
Kaveh (full name withheld): “Humanity”
Mohammad Asif Rahimi: “For Yesterday”
Walid Zazai: “Australia”
Mabsud Masan (real name withheld): “To Corrupt the System Is to Have Compassion”
Mardin Arvin: Excerpt from “Pokun the Little Black King”

Mohamad Haghighi, “They Sign the Migration”
Samad Abdul: “Me, Sky and My Life”
Ibrahim (full name withheld): “Wait”
Abdi (full name withheld): “Two Poems”
Kazem Kazemi: “The Cage of Waiting”
Mohamad Haghighi: “My Cocoon”
Farnaz (full name withheld): “Cages”
Homaira Zamiri: “I Speak”
Behrouz Boochani: “Untitled”
Ellie Shakiba / Elahe Zivardar: “19th July”

Janet Galbraith and Hakirat Singh: “Memorial”
M.D. Imran: “Dedication 1”
Erfan Dana / Shams Hussaini: “Dedication 2”
Mastaneh Azarnia: “We Remember You”
Ahmad Aeinjamshid: “Untitled”
Writing Through Fences Members: “We Remember You”
Refugee Rights Action Network WA: “How Many More?”
Ahlam Mohamed and Janet Galbraith: “For You”
@ErNA (real name withheld): “Farewell”
Erfan Dana/Shams Hussaini: “Eulogy” (excerpt)
Nazeer (full name withheld): “You Just Leave, You Are Gone”
Naser Moradi: “Now Is the Time to Act”

Ali Azad: “Australian Policy”
Mohammed (full name withheld): “Racism at Jakarta Airport”
Maha (real name withheld) with Janet Galbraith: “11pm, 11th December 2015, OPC 3: Australia’s Black Site, Nauru”
Nazeer (full name withheld): “Oh My Beloved Mother”
Uncle Davai Rarua: “Brutal”
Rehan Khan: “My New Strange Story”
Ellie Shakiba / Elahe Zivardar: “Judgement”
Erfan Dana/Shams Hussaini: “Shoes that Left Home with the Spirit of Hope... Never to Return”
Ali Dorani/Eaten Fish: “Happy Bloody Christmas 1–5”
J.N. Joniad: “What Challenges Foreign Refugees Face in Indonesia!”
Omid Tofighian: “Australian Border Violence, Race and Translating No Friend but the Mountains: Al Ahram Interviews Omid Tofighian in Cairo”

Farnaz (full name withheld): “Untitled”
Michelle Nayahamui Rooney: “The Gender Diplomacy Trap and the Security Race” (excerpt)
Ellie Shakiba / Elahe Zivardar: “Nameless”
Maya (real name withheld): “Dedication”
Shanini Ghasemi: “Mothers Cry Blood” and “Reportage”
Women on Nauru: Missives and Protests from Women Held Hostage by Australia in Nauru”
Ellie Shakiba / Elahe Zivardar: “Captivity—Alliance—Freedom”
Maha (real name withheld): “Somewhere in Australia”
Bētēlihēmi Tibebu Zeleke: “A Badge”
Nur Aziza: “Unfinished Story of a Girl Born Stateless”
Maya (real name withheld): “Peace”
Paula Abood and Moones Mansoubi: “On Being: Creativity in the Pursuit of Justice”

Ali Azad: “Street Photography, 2019”
Naseem Haider: “A Note to Friends”
Farhad Bandesh with Melissa Luck: “Silence of Nature”
Farhad Bandesh and Jenell Quinsee: “The Big Exhale”
Mina (full name withheld): “Untitled”
Sriharan Ganeshan: “Flute”
Kaveh (full name withheld): “We Are Still Hostages”
Multi-author: “Siege”
Mohammed (full name withheld): “In the Cage I Can Speak”

This edition of Southerly is also available in digital (PDF) form.

For the digital edition, click here.


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