Safe Heaven

As a journalist (and a human being) you sometimes do an interview that’ll be in you for a long time. It somehow touches something very essential not only to you but to life.
That happened to me when interviewing the new ICORN writer Omid Shams Gakieh.

It follows here:


In March Omid Shams Gakieh arrived at Aarhus as the new ICORN Guest writer (ICORN=international cities of refuge network). For the next two years the iranian author, literary critic and freelance journalist will be living here with his wife Parissa Jamali, who is a designer. Omid Shams Gakieh has got an office space at the Projekt Floor at Godsbanen, where he’ll continue his writing.

This is his story, told to journalist Eva Lisby at Godsbanen who chose to transform it to poems:

The feverish words
I was 13 when I got a very, very tough fever and suddenly I felt I was hearing some words. Some rhymes.

I called my dad and asked him to write something down for me.
It’s just something I can hear, I told him.

When I got back I was kind of amazed with what I saw.
I couldn’t believe that those verses came out of my mind.

I guess that was the first event that pushed me into writing.

The interrogator I
I have a duty
To take these answers
Out of you

You can choose
to be a hero
in here


I was always angry
Writing was a way to let this anger out
The fears and tensions

Quickly I moved towards avantgarde
Since, the Persian classic is all about harmony and sadness
In terms of themes and style.

There were lots of me
Not only the sad one
Or the happy one.

But also
Me being sadhappy
And other me’s.

Imagination III
Imagination is the only space
where everything is possible.

Where you have the absolute
to create your own world.

My father said
Don’t be smart
Don’t be dumb
Deny to the last moment
If you say yes once
You’ll say yes all the time.

Writing I
Writing only comes from the past:
what is written
is about something in the past
even if you’re writing about the future
or present.
Because it first comes into your mind
and then it’s written on the paper.

But at the same time
it’s always towards future
because it’s only in the future
that writing is seen
when the reader finds it
and reads it.

Is an obligation
As long as you’re a human being.

Imagination II
Every child play with guns
and dream about going to war.

Every day you see people
that are being killed.
Your schoolmates’ parents
and whole families
are being killed suddenly
in a missile attack.

Then you use the imagination as a shelter.

The interrogator II
Why did you go to the demonstration?
Which demonstration?

Stand up!

Sit down!

Stand up!

Sit down!

Stand up!

Sit down!

Stand up!

Sit down!

So why did you go to the demonstration?

Connected with solitude
Me as a writer is not about wanting to be a writer.
It’s about being forced to write.
For me writing is not about recalling anything,
it’s not about creating anything,
it’s about getting upset about something
you don’t know what it is.

That’s why for me
always writing,
especially writing poetry,
is something related to madness
and to the feelings that primitive people had.
Because mad people and primitive people
can see something that no one else can.
They are the friends of life.

Everybody else are just seeing the world.
They are the only people observing the world.
They stop where everyone else is passing.
And they take the objects which nobody cares about:
they look at them,
they talk to them,
so the world talks to these people.

For that poets are always alone,
general writers are always alone.

Writing is something which is directly connected with solitude.

There’s a peak for pain
And you pass it

Only your body can be crushed

What remains
Is your

And your resistance

My only safe heaven
As a child I was not so tough, not so strong,
but I kind of reached out towards everything I saw in my surroundings.

I always see things in another way.

Back in my childhood I’ve been older than my real age.
I could see there was something wrong with the society:
with the way people treat each other
the way that adults treat kids
and the way that men treat women.

So I had my notebook as the only safe heaven for me.
As a kind of reward against all the things I saw
and couldn’t understand at that time.

I think that pushed me into being a writer.

The difference
Your body might be crushed
You might die

But you’re not defeated
as long as
you do not
the defeat.

Imagination I
I just can say
that what really encouraged me
to be a writer
was the only thing
I had as a safe heaven for myself:
my imagination.

Which could come true during my writing.

I didn’t see in my friends in childhood
any interest in talking about imagination.
I sometimes used to tell them imaginative stories
sometimes they were interested
but most of the times they were not.
Because in a society
which is involved in horrible war,
in sanctions that strongly affect people’s life,
imagination really is something luxurious.
People are involved in reality,
in a cruel and unchangeable reality.

Being imaginative is something not so normal.

The Writer and the book
For a writer the only property
the only possession
is the book.

But the book
that the reader finds
is always with the hope
of the future.
That someone is waiting somewhere to get that message.

has a limit

Before it happens
You have FEAR

When it happens
You find out
That you can bear it

The writer and the author II
The writer is the shy person
who does his job and vanishes.

The author is the person
who sits here giving interviews.

The author mistakenly thinks he has the power
to control the book.
He thinks he owns the book.

The writer doesn’t think about that.

Saving the planet
You have to educate
In terms of global economy

And you need to take action
Support your local green suppliers

After a while
People will follow.

The journey
And then the book begins it’s own journey
from the shore of the writer
to the shore of the reader

And through that journey
The book evaporates
And the work shows up.

At War
To declare
that your upraising
will be
is not possible


Writing II
The narrative lies
A and B

And like zapping on a tv
It doesn’t need logic
Or causality

Nor does the reader.

Moral Police
You see them
Every day
Acting in accordance
with no specific rules

You feel
And fear:
Is there something wrong
with what I’m doing
right now?

The permanent question
You finish your book
but you did not finish your work.

You never know when your work is finished.

Because it’s the work that declares
when it’s finished
not you.

Writer is always in distress of the question:
Is the work finished now?

You did
What you had to do:
You confessed
against yourself
Confessed the most unspeakable
sexual perversions
anyone can think of.

I have this video, he said.

you did not
someone else.

The writer and the author I
Most writers have no choice but to accept
that when they put the last dot on the page
there’s no use of a writer no more.
The writer’s dead after writing is finished.
Then the author arrives.

The author is the one who’s got the name on the book
who’s going to explain the book
who gives interviews about the book
talks with the fans about the book.

He is the owner, he is not the writer.

The nessecity of courage
When there’s
no longer
room for

Courage shows up.

When something is forbidden
It arouses a lust
to do whatever is forbidden

And people always find a way

And when this way
Is revealed
They find another
And another
And another
And another

And all the way
Like an animal
In a cage
They’re becoming
More intelligent.

My ideal anarchy
I believe
In a decentralized community
that creates art
as its own lifestyle.

A small and mobile community

The autonomous communs
With laws
made out of the nature’s necessities.