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Born to a family in exile from Palestine, Ghazi Hussein was first imprisoned at the age of 14. He was never charged but was 'guilty of carrying thoughts'. Repeatedly imprisoned and tortured over the next 20 years, he says that poetry saved his sanity. Ghazi eventually arrived in Britain with his children in 2000.
A teacher and lecturer who studied philosophy and Arabic grammar, Ghazi's asylum case was originally deemed 'unfounded'. After a three year legal battle, medical evidence of the torture he had endured led to Ghazi and his family being granted refugee status with indefinite leave to stay.
In 2003, Ghazi worked in collaboration with Theatre Workshop on a new play, 'The Jasmine Road' about the relationship between a young International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist and a Palestinian refugee. The Scotsman described Ghazi's text as 'wonderful, wise and richly sensual'.
Although Ghazi and his family have been subjected to physical and verbal racial abuse during their stay in Scotland, he says 'If I still remained in my place of birth.....my voice would be silenced. Here in Scotland I have the opportunity to tell my story, one which I believe is important and relevant to what is happening across the world at this time'.
City of towers and turrets
City of my desire
I sought you as an immigrant bird
Full of yearning and a song on my lips
Beautiful city of hills
Adornment for Earth
A particular paradise
I came to you stricken and aggrieved
Restore me with your fragrance
My heart’s song will find its rhythm
In your branches I build my nest
And there I was reborn
Although long before I knew you, I declared my love
City of purity, in you I am at home
Your people are my people
By covenant of faith
How can I ever repay you
No word nor poem
Would be enough
I want to say
I am proud to call you my only love
I beg your forgiveness if I impose on you
But there is always a martyr in the question of love
One must be the lover, the other the loved.
Translated by: Bouzekri Ettaouchi, Ayad Alhiatly, Alexander Hutchison, Tessa Ransford, Drew Campbell
Ghazi's poem 'To Edinburgh' appeared in the nomad 22 pamphlet 'exile', which featured poems in Albanian, Farsi, Arabic & English. Published by Survivors' Press in 2004, the pamphlet showcases work produced during a series of workshops for mutual translation between writers using different languages, undertaken by Scottish PEN and Artists in Exile Glasgow. Read our article on exile.