I wish I could say the human spirit is resilient;
some days I don't think so.
~ Li-Young Lee
What do you do if you are a poet and a survivor of Hiroshima, the Holocaust, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, genocide in Iraq, genocide in Rwanda, the Iranian Revolution?
If you are Majid Naficy, who counted himself lucky to flee Iran in 1983 after his wife's and brother's execution; or Chinese poet Li-Young Lee, who was exiled from his birthplace in Indonesia just as his father and mother before him were exiled from China during Mao's reign; or Japanese poet Yasuhiko Shigemoto, who survived Hiroshima only because he happened to be working under a bridge the morning "Little Boy" was dropped; or Holocaust survivor and Polish poet Lillian Boraks-Nemetz, who as a child was smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto and survived in hiding, unlike her sister who was discovered and murdered; or the late Rwandan poet Alexandre Kimenyi, whose fate was sealed during the 1973 Hutu uprising against Tutsis; or the Kurdish poet Choman Hardi, who was forced into exile with the rest of her family, you find a way to use your gift of words to make your life matter, to reclaim your voice so that you can tell and re-tell your story so that it cannot be forgotten. You give witness through narrative to loss, remembrance, commemoration, forgiveness. You take back what you did not lose — your voice — to help others understand what it means to be alive.
Artistic creativity is the only thing left to you as a survivor.
~ Majid Naficy
The six internationally known poets listed above are the subjects of Katja Esson's documentary The Poetry of Resilience, the trailer for which is below. Out of violence and atrocity, these poets show us, life still holds. The thread that connects them all is poetry.
Poetry of Resilience Excerpt from Penelope Pictures on Vimeo.
Poetry of Resilience on FaceBook