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If this is my face, so be it


Yousif Qasmiyeh is a Palestinian poet and a university teacher from Lebanon. He was born there in a refugee camp.

This is what he says about one of his poems called “If this is my face, so be it”: “The main idea I would say is how the face of the refugee is an entity on its own, and how the face is there to remind us that movement has a face, that departure has a face, that not being able to survive also has a face. I think that writing from the premise that people are dying is important. People are not just dying while being static but while on route and moving, and this is something that ought to be focused on. It is as if there is a choice here simply to die on your own, without moving, or to die while resisting and trying to be able to see what’s beyond your own place in order to survive.”

In the link below you can hear Yousif read this poem.

Walking alongside his shadow, he suddenly realised that it was both of them who needed to cross the border.

They fortified their walls with cement and nails. They moved their women and children to a safe place and shouted: they are coming after our faces; they are coming after our crops!

Immemorial is the smell of refugees.

Wake! He said to his body when they arrived. A bit of air was in the air.

The equivalence of a refugee would be his body. Whoever can sense the coming is a refugee.

The refugee can neither come nor depart; he is the God of gestures.

We might also say the face is a dead God.

Whoever claims asylum, whoever lends his hands to strangers so they could bear out his presence and his things is the one who has many deities and none.

Refugees to kill time, count their dead.

Killing time is the correlative to killing themselves.


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