Here and away

The anthology »Weg sein – hier sein« is a collection of pieces by 19 writers recently arrived in Germany as refugees and now living and writing in exile. The German title translates literally as ‘being away – being here’.

Weg sein – hier sein. Authors. Photos: Mathias Bothor

The writers speak to us in poems and short stories – we find out about their homelands and their lost everyday lives, failed revolutions and life during wartime, being uprooted and searching for a new identity. These powerful literary voices, often suppressed in their home countries, are well worth our attention. For the more stories we tell each other, the better we’ll learn to understand ourselves and one another.

Khawla M. Dunia’s poem “Breaking News” is one of over fifty texts in the anthology:




It’s very simple

we’re dying

under a bridge

waiting for the crossing

the burdens fall from our shoulders.

We leave behind the remains

of our possibilities and our hearts.


It’s very simple

a child is running

and loses his bread.

A woman is stumbling

gets injured.

Breaking news.

That’s how we end up –

and now we’re dying.


It’s very simple

a sniper shoots at hasty feet

an eye looks down from the minaret.

The holy woman’s heart weeps.

When a widow implores her

houses collapse

and bombs bark.


And we

– very simply –

are dying.


Photo: Mathias Bothor

Khawla M. Dunia was born in Damascus in 1968, and graduated there in economics. A journalist and poet, she defines herself as an atheist of Alawi origins. She is a member of the Committee of Defending Human Rights, worked in humanitarian aid in Syria and documented the revolution continuously as a journalist. In October 2011 she was arrested and spent six months behind bars. She fled to Lebanon in 2013 and on to Germany in 2014, now living in Löhne with her family. Khawla Dunia has written about women’s situation in Syria and during the revolution in numerous publications, including 2008’s Syrian Women between Reality and Ambition, Report on the Damascus Declaration Detainees. In 2009 she authored a report on the prisoners of the Damascus Spring. Her first volume of poetry, Overhasty Poems Before the Missile Falls, was published in 2012 in Amarji Magazine. That same year, her essay “Der Aufstand der Frauen – Der Kampf um Würde und Gleichberechtigung” was published in Larissa Bender’s book Syrien, der schwierige Weg in die Freiheit.

beitrag3_weg_sein_anthologie_buch»Weg sein – hier sein. An anthology of writing from Germany«,      by Rasha Abbas, Ayham Majid Agha, Pegah Ahmadi, Galal Al Alahmadi, Ramy Al-Asheq, Assaf, Alassaf, Mohammad Al Attar, Lina Atfah, Daher Ayta, Khwala M Dunia, Aref Hamza, Yamen Hussein, Noor Kanj, Kenan Khadaj, Amer Matar, Widad Nabi, Nihad Siris, Raed Wahesh, Rosa Yassin Hassan, published by Secession Verlag in October 2016. With a foreword by Sherko Fatah and 19 portrait photos by Mathias Bothor.

Translation of text and poem: Katy Derbyshire