Born in 1957 of Chinese parents in Jakarta, Indonesia, Li-Young Lee learned early about loss and exile. His great grandfather was China's first republican President, and his father, a deeply religious Christian, was physician to Communist leader Mao Tse-Tung. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Lee's parents escaped to Indonesia. In 1959 his father fled Indonesia with his family after having spent a year as a political prisoner in President Sukarno's jails. After a five-year trek through Hong Kong, Macau, and Japan, they settled in the United States in 1964. Li-Young Lee is the author of four critically acclaimed books of poetry, his most recent being ‘Behind My Eyes’ (W.W. Norton, 2008). His earlier collections are ‘Book of My Nights’ (BOA Editions, 2001); ‘Rose’ (BOA, 1986), winner of the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University; ‘The City in Which I Love You’ (BOA, 1991), the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection; and a memoir entitled ‘The Winged Seed: A Remembrance’ (Simon and Schuster, 1995), which received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Lee's honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Lannan Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
» After the Pyre
» Self help for fellow refugees
» Immigrant blues
Poland - Canada
Lillian Boraks-Nemetz was born in Warsaw, Poland. Lillian survived the Holocaust as a child. She was incarcerated in the Warsaw Ghetto until she and her little sister were smuggled out and hidden in two different Polish villages. Her sister was discovered and killed. After the war her family fled Poland to Montreal, Canada. She is the winner of the Canadian Jewish Book award as well as a BC Book Prize for YA literature, and teaches creative writing. One of her poetry books is ‘Ghost Children’, which explores the losses suffered by child survivors of the Holocaust.
» A walk through the Warsaw Ghetto
» Jerusalem street
» Laughing Skeletons
Majid Naficy was born in Iran in 1952 and started writing at a young age. His first poem was published when he was only 13 and he continued to publish poetry, criticism and an award-winning children's book. During the 1970's Dr. Naficy and his family were politically active against the Shah's regime. After the 1979 Revolution, when the new regime of Ayatollah Khomeini turned against the revolutionaries, Dr. Naficy's first wife Ezzat Tabaian and his brother Sa'id were caught and executed. Dr. Naficy fled Iran in 1983, eventually settling in Los Angeles with his son Azad. He has since published six volumes of poetry in both English and Farsi, as well as numerous books of criticism. His most recent volume of poetry in English Father and Son, was published in 2003 by Red Hen Press and his poem “I Don't Want You Petroleum” appears in Sam Hamill's ‘Poets Against the War’ (Thunder's Mouth Press / Nation Books, April 2003). He holds a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California in Los Angeles.
» To the Children of Prison and Exile
» Ah, Los Angeles!
Alexandre Kimenyi was born a Tutsi in Rwanda and came to the United States in 1971 as a Fulbright Fellow to pursue graduate studies at UCLA hoping to go back and contribute to the development of his country. However, in a 1973 Hutu uprising against Tutsis, members of his family were killed and he decided to stay in America and become an American citizen. In the 1994 genocide, where 1 million Tutsis were killed in 3 months, almost his entire family was exterminated. He is a Professor of Linguistics, Ethnic Studies, and African Languages. He writes poetry in his native language.
Yasuhiko Shigemoto was fifteen years old when a United States' B-29 bomber, named the Enola Gay, dropped the first atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy”, over his city of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. “Little Boy” instantly incinerated 80,000 people. The explosion and resulting fires killed half of Shigemoto's classmates and destroyed his city. He happened to be working as a mobilized student under a bridge and escaped death. At the age of 55 he began to write poetry about Hiroshima in the traditional Japanese form of the 17 syllable haiku in Japanese and English. In 1995 he published ‘My Haiku of Hiroshima’ and in 2005 he published Volume II of the same title.
Choman Hardi, Kurdistan - England
Choman Hardi was born in Southern Kurdistan and lived there until her family was forced into exile. She lived in Iran and Turkey before settling in England. She studied philosophy and psychology at Oxford and has an MA in philosophy. She completed doctoral research at the University of Kent on the mental health of Middle-Eastern refugee women caught between a clash of cultures. She was chair of Exiled Writers' Ink!, an group of established refugee writers. She has published three books of poetry in Kurdish and ‘Life for Us’ in English. Her love of writing began with her father's regular recitals of poetry at moments of anger, sadness, and laughter. As an artist, Choman has contributed to exhibitions in Britain and Europe.
» The spoils, 1988