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not the point

14.06.17
1 min

not the point 

you listen a ballad, sing along, “which vinery do you guard?” 

not an affinity bearing love but that’s not the point 

however that’s not the point, you singing along, love or nightmare

it’s very late, one’s nine years old wail, body and fever 

all these years i was thought a few alphabets, one arabic one cyrillic

hammer and sickle sociology of oppressed people,

pedagogy of the oppressed and manuscripts of 1844

your name is not zîn, mine neither mem nor tajdîn 

my name is not in a song, yours not in a poem 

you never sang to me on a november night 

i may be mem û zîn to you on the fourth of november 

if i may, like that poet, i’m fond of turgut uyar, i’m not 

i’m not an emigree, nothing of the maghrib nor do i know of the mashriq 

not brave enough to refuge, a state of poetry

kürdistan est un mot cool.

your coffee-coloured hair is on my mind. 

and that coffee has a colour. the smell of coffee 

too. 

yet that’s not the point. 

Mehmet Said Aydın
People

Mehmet Said Aydın was born in Diyarbakır (1983), spent most of his life in Mardin and İstanbul. The author of realities and tales of his homeland, which stayed unsung for centuries, Aydın’s poems and short stories are best known for its neo-realist texture. Aydın’s mother tongue is Kurdish and he studied Turkish Language and Literature.

Published in 2011, his first book of poetry Kusurlu Bahçe by 160. Kilometre was honoured with “Arkadaş Z. Özger First Book Special Award”.
In early 2014, Sokağın Zoru was released and his two poetry books were reprinted 7 times. In 2017, Sylvain Cavaillès translated his first volume of poems Kusurlu Bahçe into French as Le Jardin Manqué. He’s currently working on a novel and new volumes of poetry to be published in 2018.

He translated two books from Turkish to Kurdish together with Süleyman Sertkaya: Murat Özyaşar, Bîr (Doğan Publishing, 2011); Aziz Nesin, Zarokên Niha Çi Jîr in (Nesin Publishing, 2012).

His column “Pervaz” appeared first in BirGün, then in Evrensel newspapers every week since 2013. He currently writes weekly for the Duvar Newspaper. Aydın expresses the political conjuncture with a delightful sense of humour using his childhood memories and similes.

He hosted a radio show on Kurdish Literature aired by Açık Radyo, every 2 weeks for 2 years. This program was popular among circles of interest that he was proposed hosting a TV show Keçiyolu which was broadcasted in 2015 and 2016.

He makes a living as an editor for Everest Publishing House in İstanbul married to Selin Fişek Aydın. He experiments with language and methods of translation. He’s a member of Amnesty International Turkey and Journalists Union of Turkey.

Mehmet partipated in our Istanbul Longform Workshop in March 2017. 

Nora Amin
People

Writer, performer, choreographer, theatre director and educator, Amin is a founding member of the Modern Dance Theatre Company at The Cairo Opera House (since 1993) and the founder of “Lamusica Independent Theatre Group”, where she directed and produced thirty-five theatre, music and dance productions since 2000. She has published four collections of short stories, three novels, a poetry audio book and two books on theatre methodology. She is the author of the first Arabic book on theatre and human rights, “The Egyptian Contemporary Theatre: The Art of Claiming our Right”, published by CHRSI in 2003, as well as of a book on theatre as a medium for healing and transformation for trauma survivors, “Theatre For Change: From the Internal to the External”. In 2009, she launched the independent initiative “Our Stories” to encourage personal storytelling in popular neighborhoods. In 2011 Amin founded “The Egyptian National Project Of Theatre Of The Oppressed” and its Arab network. 

In 2015, Nora participated in our 60pages Longform Workshop in Cairo, her book “Migrating the Feminine” is an outcome of this workshop. It has been published in English and Arabic and soon in German. 

Alia Mossallam at the 60pages Cairo Workshop
Alia Mossallam at the 60pages Cairo Workshop

Rawi

by
Alia Mossallam
12.06.17
150 min
Longread
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Our Friends at Mada Masr

Georg Diez about the Egyptian crackdown against free media
08.06.17
3 min
Post

Sometimes I wonder: Does anybody care? And: Was it always like this? Only now I realize it?
Or, on the other hand, is the world just okay with authoritarian regimes all over taking away the basic freedoms that make humans human?
Like: Freedom of speech and opinion, freedom of press, freedom to assemble. It seems total control all over, and it does not help that there is an authoritarian crack-pot in the White House.
Still, among all the bad bad news we heard in the last year or two, the news from Cairo about our friends at Mada Masr was as unsurprising as it was shocking.
We, Murat and I for 60pages, had been in Cairo in 2015 for an extraordinary workshop about longform non-fiction writing with some of the brightest and bravest of the journalistic profession that I have ever met.
I am grateful for everything they talked about and shared, among them Alia Mossallam and her friend Lina Attalah, the editor-in-chief of Mada Masr, the independent online-medium which was one of our partners at the time.
The closing and finally the tearing down of the gallery space where we met was the first step that we witnessed; our friends in Cairo of course had lived through far worse, Alia Mossallam talks in her soon-to-be published text about some of the despair.
There were constant reports of threats and harassments by the military regime which is tolerated or openly supported by to my knowledge all of the Western governments; it is better to have stability than human rights, that’s the rationale.
But now, it seems there is another level of systematic purging of dissenting opinions: On May 24, Mada Masr – together with Al Jazeera and HuffPost’s Arabic website and others – was blocked by Egyptian authorities.
Then the government of Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi effectively banned foreign NGOs – a move described as a “catastrophic blow” by Amnesty International, a “death sentence” for human rights groups in the country.
Nancy Okail recently detailed what it is like to have to leave your country because you believe in and work for democracy: “We have no choice but to work for a better Egypt. We did not give up under Mubarak when the entire world was backing his oppressive regime, and we will not give up to the current one. We hope that the world won’t give up on us either.”
These are hard times, in a lot of places, for our friends in Egypt and in Turkey where we went for another workshop in March of 2017. Our friend, the German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel is still in prison there.
Again, really, how did we get here? In a way, I feel, all we can do is publish texts that matter.

Alia Mossallam
People

Alia Mosallam is a thinker, often weaving her thoughts in writings that range from letters to graduates theses, but also in different other acts of organizing, advocacy and mobilization. Her main academic inquiry has been centered on how history, especially of resistance, can be re-imagined and re-written through the ranks of the verbal, the sung and more broadly, the popular, the vernacular. Her PhD thesis covered the period between 1956 and 1974, which marked formative post-colonial struggles and their most contemporary embodiment in the Arab-Israeli wars. But her PhD thesis was only one form of mediation for her key epistemological inquiry, which she took to different spaces of production: artistic, pedagogical and more. She conceptualized and led workshops with young writers and historians on unearthing untold histories of an anarchist and socialist Alexandria in the north of Egypt and a resistant Nubia and Port Said, south and east of the mainland. She provided the research backbone for theatrical productions on key moments of dissent in Egypt, namely 1919 and 2011. She wrote for influential local and international publications on revolution, imprisonment and resistance, where argumentative rigor met poetics to create powerful and engaging texts. She brought all these processes, of thinking and producing, to classrooms, both in formal institutions she taught at like the American University in Cairo and alternative ones like the Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts. While unearthing alternative histories and understanding resistance and dissent have been her main intellectual preoccupations, Alia has been invested in different educational back ends that can make these inquiries possible. She was a curriculum developer for an annual creative Arab youth camp organized by the Arab Digital Expression Foundation and was a child protection officer with UNICEF. Her thinking, writing, conceptualizing, teaching, mentoring and facilitating have been paralleled with other acts of engagement with the surrounding socio-political environment, particularly in times of revolution: from marching in squares of dissent, to participating in campaigns around the popular writing of the Constitution, to contributing to advocacies for minors in military prisons. She is a wife and mother of two: Taya (the rock?) and Rawi (the storyteller). To her family, she brings all of the above, and through motherhood, she is learning new things about presence, resistance and telling stories about them.

Learning from Cairo

Georg Diez about about our first 60pages writers workshop
17.05.17
4 min
Voyage | Cairo

This was an experiment. We were going to Cairo for a workshop on the art of longform writing, with the generous support of MiCT and at a time of new tensions between the government and the press. The workshop was hosted by Townhouse Gallery, not far from Tahrir Square. Sep 1–3, 2015, morning, afternoon, dinner, tea and talk in between. 25 writers, activists, journalists. We wanted to talk about what stories need to be told and commission five to eight of them and publish them.

We always believed that part of today’s problems, both politically and journalistically, was a limitation of scope and perspective. What Indian essayist and novelist Pankaj Mishra called “the West and the rest” turns into a true liability if it comes to describing this world and how it changes. The West looks at Egypt and sees first an uprising, violence, a revolution; then change, the end of the old, the beginning of something; democracy? The election turns out differently. The Muslim Brotherhood is not what the West bargained for. So when the new president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took over, there was a very loud silence from the part of Western governments.

It has been a rollercoaster ride and we came to listen and learn. Probably the most fascinating thing somebody told me in the last two days here in Cairo, the thing with the most far reaching implications, spanning the private and the political, the family and the state, regression and aggression and an overall unease with the way men are, was Egyptian writer, performer and director Nora Amin who said that Egyptian men are so spoiled by their mothers, so doted upon, so smothered with love that they go through life expecting this to never end.

Would the Middle East be a different place without these men? Probably. Is there a chance of that happening? Probably not. Do they care? No. Do they know? I guess not. Nora’s text was the first one that we published, it was a strong, moving, vulnerable text about rape and Tahrir and the everyday sexism of the Egyptian society. It was also about survival.

“Migrating the Feminine”, Nora Amin’s text, was published just after there were attacks by supposedly refugees on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve of 2015/2016. Her text was like a commentary to everything that went wrong in the German debate after the events, the blame, the prejudice, the xenophobia and islamophobia that was growing more and more at the time. We were proud to publish this text, and the German newspaper “taz” picked it up as well.

The next text was Youssef Rhaka’s very daring essay on “Arab Porn”, a provocative and mindful examination of the fundamental changes the Egyptian society is living through as seen through the prism of sexuality and home-made porn — it is also a questioning of the self-understanding of protest and activism about producing change versus the change that is happening anyway, away from the streets, apart from the news.

We will publish two more from the Cairo workshop in the coming weeks. One is by Alia Mossallam who tells the story of loosing friends in the Arab Spring, of torture and fear of oppression and the deeper story of migration across the Mediterranean — all channeled through her very difficult and painful childbirth; only this pain, it seems, allowed her to access the other pain.

The final text by Amr Ezzat will be the most genre-bending, an account of a double-life, to say the least, the life of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood turned activist in the Arab Spring movement — without telling his father about it. It is a story about the basic contradictions that run through every society, but those in particular where religious fanaticism is ruling; the basic contradictions that run through every family, but those in particular where the fear of the open and the other is cultivated to a degree that encourages lying.

What can we take away from all of this? There is so much we don’t know. It is best if we just come to learn and listen.

Anger Management: The Emergence of the Future

with
Otto Scharmer
Karin Pettersson
Georg Diez
26.04.17
60 min
60hertz

Where does true change come from? Is it the realm of politics where innovation happens? Rarely. Politics is the art of the possible, but what if there is a time for the impossible – or rather: the near possible? This is what Otto Scharmer is working on, the emergence or, as he calls it: the presencing of what is already here but not readily accepted – the new way of doing things in a market economy which is not weighed down by capitalistic dogma. It is a truly original mix of new words and new thoughts coming from the heart of an outwardly very capitalistic institution – the MIT Sloan School of Management, where the German Scharmer is Senior Lecturer. But what if this was the place to look for answers for tomorrow’s questions? Wouldn’t “the Left” go mad?

Anger Management: The Future of Democracy is Local

with
Jennifer Klein
Karin Pettersson
Georg Diez
19.04.17
60 min
60hertz

This time we went to Yale to talk to Jennifer Klein, Professor for American History with a strong activist background. In this conversation she expands her critique of the present oligarchic regime in the US into new ways of thinking about democracy in general and coming up with concrete proposals for a political renewal from the bottom up, starting on a communal level with steps like community banking. She is an inspiration for anybody thinking creatively about how to break out of the confines of the present situation.

Anger Management: Capitalism Is Like A Tired Animal

with
Wolfgang Streeck
Karin Pettersson
Georg Diez
11.04.17
60 min
60hertz

Wolfgang Streeck is the first European that we meet in the course of this quest for new ideas about the future of democracy, and the conversation turns dark as he unfolds his scenario of the death throes of democratic capitalism: the lack of growth, the shift of public debt to private debt and the resulting societal inequality. Streeck has a sociologist’s view on the economic dilemma of our time, he is very clear in his analysis and very reticent when it comes to solutions. There is a tension throughout this conversation which has to do with the question of the role of social democracy in this whole scenario: Are these forces able to reform society, as Karin thinks, or is the politics of the old responsible for the lack of ideas about meaningful change, as Georg thinks. Wolfgang Streeck, even if he left the German SPD many years ago, seems to still have a heart for the organized left. And in the end he talks about Selena Gomez.

not the point

14.06.17
1 min

Rawi

by
Alia Mossallam
12.06.17
150 min

Our Friends at Mada Masr

Georg Diez about the Egyptian crackdown against free media
08.06.17
3 min

Learning from Cairo

Georg Diez about about our first 60pages writers workshop
17.05.17
4 min

Anger Management: The Emergence of the Future

with
Otto Scharmer
Karin Pettersson
Georg Diez
26.04.17
60 min

Anger Management: The Future of Democracy is Local

with
Jennifer Klein
Karin Pettersson
Georg Diez
19.04.17
60 min

Anger Management: Capitalism Is Like A Tired Animal

with
Wolfgang Streeck
Karin Pettersson
Georg Diez
11.04.17
60 min