At sunset on 13th June in Zagreb, members of the Centar za mirovne studije (Centre for Peace Studies) teamed up with the Zagreb Light Brigade and the migrant cooperative Okus doma / Taste of Home, at the Hotel Porin, where asylum seekers are housed. They broke the Ramadan fast together, and an Arabic translation of the final stanza of the Passport was given out to some of the refugees.
The Croatian adaptation of the poem and booklet by a team of ten students of the CMS is almost ready, and will hopefully be presented after the summer. The ‘official’ (or for want of a less bureaucratic word, ‘recommended’) Arabic translation of the Passport by Walid Nabhan is also on its way; the Arabic translation distributed in Zagreb was done by hand, spontaneously, by the mother of a student who came to the poetry workshops I gave in Saint-Claude, in the French Jura mountains, during the second week of May.
On Saturday 18th June, at La Fraternelle / Maison du Peuple in Saint-Claude, a multilingual choir will be singing the final stanza of the Passport in French, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Polish, Romanian, and even Maltese (‘maltais de vache française’ ?! 😃 ) The choir will be joined by the ‘allophone’ children (a ‘neutral’ term for immigrant, French as second language) I taught last month, performing their own writings from the workshops, plus extracts of the Passeport poem that they re-wrote according to their own experiences of borders and playground discrimination. One of the writing tasks was to invent and conjugate a verb related to migration, and one of the kids, Lara from Portugal, created the verb passeporter. This conjugation and other writings have been set to music by choir director Stéphanie Barbarou, with whom I gave the workshops. This will be the third time that the kids will be reciting and singing their poems, after performances in front of the town museum and in the school hall.
On Sunday 26th June, at Centre Culturel Athus (a town in southern Belgium bordering France and Luxembourg), actors of Cie Le Grand Asile and Studio Théâtre Luxembourg will be performing Frontières, including extracts of the French Passeport as adapted from the Maltese by Elizabeth Grech. The spectacle is directed by Déborah Barbieri and Fabrizio Leva.
Luckily I’ll be present at Athus, the day after a performance at the Kulturfabrik in Luxembourg, accompanied by actress Sophie Langevin. We’ll be reciting poems from the forthcoming 40 Jum / 40 Days, a book about domestic violence, childhood trauma, and walking as self-therapy. The French translations from the Maltese are also by Elizabeth Grech.
Breathe in, breathe out. I’m now dedicating the bulk of my time to the Passport project, and have quite a mountain to climb – 18 months of activities to document, accounts to sort out, donations to give to the migration associations and collectives I collaborate with, and several new translations to follow up. Step by step. Pass pass.
Nevertheless, I’m finally realising that the name Passaport Project, the label with which I attempt to englobe the various initiatives born of the poem and booklet, no longer makes sense. It’s all too organic for the word ‘project’; there’s no purposeful direction as such, no mid- to long-term plan, other than catharsis, awareness raising and solidarity through poetry and performance. The poem has taken a life of its own in the voices and actions of others, and it’s better that way.
Meanwhile, we continue ‘passporting’. Heartfelt thanks to all the people accompanying me on this crazy, unpredictable journey. I’d like to say we’re united by the poem – in reality, we’re all over the place, but moving in similar directions. Hopefully, toward a world with open nation-state borders – or no borders at all.
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