The story teller

Click on the alphabetical list to read the writers' biographies.

Hasan Yousefi Eshkevari

Guest writer, Chiusi City of Refuge 2008 - 2010

Yousefi Eshkevari is a journalist and researcher in Islamic theology and the history of Islam, critical to the theocratic government of Iran.


Previously he has worked as the director of the Ali Sheriati Research Centre and has been the editor of the newspaper Iran-e Farda, which was banned in 2000. In 2000 Yousefi Eshkevari was arrested and imprisoned for "war against Islam" and "apostasy". He was released in 2005.



Mohamad Alaaedin Abdul Moula

Mohamad Alaaedin Abdul Moula is an award winning writer and poet from Syria. Since his first poetry collection, Elegies for the Family of Hearts (1990), he has published more than a dozen books.


In addition to poetry and prose, he has written critical works. Mr. Abdul Moula is a member of the Arabic Writers' Union in Syria, and details of his work can be found (in Arabic) on their website.


Since 1980 Mr. Abdula Moula has been under threat, harassed, and on several occasions forbidden to travel outside the country. Considerable pressure has been put on him to write in favour of the Syrian president, and in 1996 he lost his job for refusing to cooperate.

Parvin Ardalan

Guest Writer, Malmö City of Refuge 2010 - present

Ardalan is an Iranian journalist, women's rights activist, a writer.


Ardalan is the editor of the feminist websites Iranian Feminists Tribune, Zanestan, and Change for equality. She co-founded the Women's Cultural Center, and the One Million Signatures Campaign, a grass roots movement aimed at repealing discriminatory laws against women. Ardalan won the Olof Palme Prize In 2007 and the Hellman/Hammett award in 2010. She is an honorary member of Swedish PEN.

Asieh Amini

Current Guest Writer, Trondheim City of Refuge 2010 - present

Amini is a poet, journalist, and women's rights activist.


She is one of Iran's most effective campaigners against the death penalty, particularly stoning and juvenile executions. She was awarded Human Rights Watch's Hellmann/Hammett award in 2009.

Song Chi

Guest writer, Kristiansand City of Refuge
2009 - 2011

Song Chi is a writer, journalist and film director from Ho Chi Minh-City, Vietnam.


She has worked for the Than Nien newspaper and Television Film Studio and received awards for her films. In the start of 2008 she was put under heavy surveillance, after having written critical articles on various websites and given interviews to overseas media. She got fired from her job at the Television Film Studio and had great difficulties in finding employment.

Seedy Bojang

Guest writer, Frederiksberg City of Refuge 2010 - present

Seedy Bojang isa a published author of both fiction and non-fiction books, as well as journalist and editor from the Gambia.


His novel from 2009, Tip of the Iceberg, exposes corruption and criminality among civil servants and the affluent in the Gambia. Other works discus social issues in the Gambia, such as Shadows from my past (2010), Bumpy journey (2008) and The changing world (2006).


As a journalist Bojang is active in reporting on restraints of freedom of expression, as well as threats and harassment of journalists. Due to hos work, there are great difficulties in finding employment in hte Gambia for Seedy Bojang. In August 2011 Bojang's latest book was released, Our tears and sorrows, a portrayal of the blows and media freedom and democracy on the African continent.

Salah At-Tarjuman

. . . is a pseudonym for a current ICORN Guest Writer whose identity cannot be revealed at this time. We hope that we will be able to present this person's real name and writing credentials in the near future. Please check back.

Salah Salim Ali

Guest writer, Kristiansand City of Refuge 2006 -2008

Salah Salim Ali is a writer and researcher in translation and linguistics, from Iraq. He ha written extensively about Iraqi Classical Poetry.


Ali worked at the University of Mosul and as an interpreter. During Saddam Hussein's regime he was imprisoned for one year and faced many difficulties after his release. In Norway he has been active writing articles and participating in international conferences within his field.

Jahangir Alam Akash

Guest writer, Tromsø City of Refuge 2011 - present

Jahangir Alam Akash is a journalist from Bangladesh, who has worked for newspapers, radio- and tv channels in his home country.


He has reported on human rights issues sush as Islamic militancy and extra-judicial killings and women's rights. Akash has been a front figure in Bengali human rights organizations like Justice Foundation, Bangladesh Institute for Human Rights and Taskforce Against Torture. He has published several books and has received awards for his human rights work as well as for his journalistic literature.


Akash was harassed, arrested unlawfully and tortured in prison. This forced him to leave Bangladesh, by the help of Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders. He is the editor of the website Euro Bangla.

Mohammed Hassan Abdullah

Guest writer, Tromsø City of Refuge 2007 - 2009

As a writer, translator and researcher, Mohammed Hassan Abdullah from Iraq, focused on French Literature and poetry.


He has translated children's books, French novels and poetry and worked as a French teacher in Iraqi schools. In his homeland he also wrote articles defending democracy. This, together with his engagement to French literature, led to severe persecution of himself and his family. After harassment and death threats, Mohammed Hassan Abdullah came to Tromsø with his family in 2007.

Sihem Bensedrine

Tunisian journalist and writer prevented from working in her own country because of her involvement in human rights. She faced a long term persecution and reprisals against her and her family.


A graduate of philosophy of the University of Toulouse (France), Sihem Bensedrine has been engaged in the fight for the human rights in Tunisia since 1980. As a journalist, she made her debut in the independent press which prospered in the 80s. This was the beginning of a fight for press freedom. This fighting also extended to the feminist sphere where she was at the origin of the birth of a women's club, Club Tahar Haddad, and of Nissa, a feminist magazine.
Bensedrine is now editor in chief of the online magazine Ka¬lima and Radio Kalima(web and satellite radio. Kalima was denied registration after five attempts to register.  


Safaa Alwan

Safaa Alwan is the ICORN Guest Writer in Skien City of Refuge. He worked as an editor, journalist and writer in his homeland of Iraq, which he had to flee in 2009.

Pegah Ahmadi

Pegāh Ahmadi is an Iranian poet, scholar, literary critic and translator of poetry. She is currently the ICORN Guest Writer in Frankfurt City of Refuge.


Ahmadi made her début as a poet at age seventeen by the publication of a poem in the literary magazine Takāpu. She has studied Persian literature at the University of Tehran, and regularly contributed to literary magazines on subject matters related to criticism of verse, theoretical issues pertaining to poetry and translation of poems. She is a member of Iranian Writers Association. In 2007 she was awarded the Celebrity of Poetry Award of the Iranian Journalists' Institute. Ahmadi has published several books of poetry, anthologies, literary reviews and translation of American poetry (like Sylvia Plath). Before coming to Germany, she worked as editor of the literary review Paperik and taught "Poetry in cinema" at the Film School Tehran.


Manal Al-Sheikh

Poet from Iraq. Al-Sheikh has been a very active participant in the Arab Union of Writers since 1993, and has published collections of her own poetry as well as editing an anthology of modern Iraqi poetry.


Manal Al-Sheikh is from Nineveh in northern Iraq, and has a degree in English translation from the College of Arts at Mosul University. She has freelanced for a number of local newspapers, as well as the She'riat Magazine in Libya. Al-Sheikh participated in all sessions of the Annual Mosul University Festival of Creativity, as well as in several forums specializing in Iraqi fiction in Baghdad, three consecutive sessions of the Mirbad Festival of Poetry, and the Iqamat Ibdaeiya (Creative Residencies) event in Algeria.


She has published poetry and essays in several Iraqi and international Arabic newspapers. Her first book, "Inhirafut-tawabeet" ("The Deviation of Coffins"), was published by the Iraqi Union of Writers in Nineveh in 1996. In 2007, she edited and published "Umaraur-ruaa" ("Princes of Imaginative Visions"), an anthology of modern Iraqi poetry, and published "Assfar Alo'zlah" ("Books of Seclusion") in Egypt in 2008. A collection of poetic narrative titled "Kadmu Dhaheratin Mukaddada" ("Biting Through a Chopped Moon") is to be published in Syria in 2009, and "Belnokta elhamraa tahta eynhi elyousrah" ("With a red dot under his left eye") is also forthcoming.


Manal Al-Sheikh is currently the ICORN Guest Writer of Stavanger City of
Refuge. You can listen to an interview with Al-Sheikh here, and hear her read her poem Pennylessness here.

Manal Alsheikh Aftenposten.pdf260.67 KB

Islam Elsanov

Islam Elsanov is a filmmaker and writer from Chechnya, and a former ICORN Guest Writer of Stavanger City of Refuge. He has worked as a journal and book editor in Grozni, and is currently working on a documentary.

Gilles Dossou-Gouin

Novelist, poet and human rights activist Gilles Dossou-Gouin is originally from Benin, and now a former ICORN Guest Writer of Molde City of Refuge. Before coming to Norway, he lived in exile in Senegal.

Boubacar Boris Diop

Novelist and, anti-colonialist and political activist Boubacar Boris Diop finished his first novel before even finishing high school. He is from Senegal, and has been the ICORN Guest Writer of Casa Refugio in Mexico City.

Faraj Bayrakdar

Faraj Bayrakdar of Syria is a journalist and poet, and the ICORN Guest Writer of Stockholm City of Refuge. Bayrakdar was imprisoned for nearly 15 years, suspected of belonging to the Party for Communist Action.

Soudabeh Alishahi

Soudabeh Alishahi, former ICORN Guest Writer in Oslo City of Refuge, worked as a high school teacher in Iran. She also wrote short stories focusing on controversial subjects such as women's rights.

Svetlana Alexievich

Svetlana Alexievich from Ukraine is a former ICORN Guest Writer of Gothenburg City of Refuge. Her award-winning works have been the basis for documentary films focusing on witnessing and national crisis. 

Mansour Koushan

Mansour Koushan comes from Iran where he worked as a theater producer and director, television screenwriter and novelist. He is a former ICORN Guest Writer of Stavanger City if Refuge and edits a literary journal.

Irakli Kakabadze

Irakli Kakabadze is a prose writer, performance poet and lyricist. He is also a passionate activist. He comes from Georgia, but currently lives in Ithaca where he teaches at Cornell University.

Anisur Rahman

Anisur Rahman, the first official ICORN Guest Writer in Uppsala, is a poet, playwright, literary critic, essayist, novelist, translator and journalist from Bangladesh.


Anisur Rahman writes for newspapers in Bangladesh, Sweden and elsewhere alongside participating in debate and literary programmes on various occasions in Uppsala and other cities. He is a member of the Swedish Writers' Union, the Swedish Foreign Press Association, Writers' Centre in Stockholm and is an honorary member of Swedish PEN. Born in Madhupur, Tangail, Bangladesh in 1978, Anisur Rahman studied English Literature and Linguistics alongside Bengali and History at the University of Dhaka. He has published two collections of poems in Bengali and another in English. He translates poems and plays from English to Bengali and from Bengali to English. His translation of Henrik Ibsen's poems in Bengali was published in 2006. His Bengali novel Oi Andhakar Ase (The Dark Sounds) appeared in April 2009. Rahman's collection of poems is being translated to Swedish to be published later this year. He scripted two plays - Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea in Bengali. His latest publication is The Absent Poet and Other Essays - a collection of 40 essays on aesthetic traditions and socio-cultural aspects of Bengali poetry and plays. He has visited India, France, Mexico, Sweden and the UK on invitation to different international literary conferences and festivals. He lectured on perspectives of translating poetry and Henrik Ibsen as a poet at the Universidad del Claustro da Sor Juana in Mexico City in 2006. In 2008, he participated in the Writers and Literary Translators International Congress in Stockholm, where he presented a paper on "The Importance of Mother Tongue - The spirit of International Mother Language Day".

Photo: Fredrik Haglund

Aziz Sangtarash

Aziz Sangtarash from Iran, former ICORN Guest Writer of Oslo City of Refuge, is a short story writer, editor and poet. He is a member of the Iranian Writers' Union, and was persecuted, imprisoned and censored in Iran.

Mansur Rajih

As a young university student, Mansur Rajih's poetry was published in local newspapers. His work was critical of the Yemeni regime, and in 1983 he was arrested and imprisoned under the guise of a murder charge.



The following year he was sentenced to death. For fifteen years organizations such as PEN International and Amnesty International campaigned for Mansur's release, which was finally granted in 1998 when he was flown directly from prison to Stavanger City of Refuge.



Since that time Mansur Rajih has written and published three volumes of poetry, bi-lingual collections with poems in Norwegian and Arabic: Horoskop: Fengsel? Horoskop: Kjærleik. (2000), Så langt borte: Så nær (2003) and Min brors smerte (2008). His life (thus far) has also been the subject of several short films.



To read a Norwegian newspaper article on Mansur Rajih, go here . To read four of his poems in English, go here . To read poems in Norwegian and Arabic, go here . To listen to a recording of Mansur Rajih reading his poetry, go here .


Hamza Zirem

Guest writer, Potenza City of Refuge 2009 - 2010

Hamza Zirem is an Algerian writer and poet, Kabylian from the Berber region. He has published four books of poetry as well as other books.


In 2007, he was forced to flee Algeria and in 2009 he became the guest writer of Potenza. In Italy, he published the book Rencontres littéraires à Potenza (2009). It contains lectures about four writers with a connection to Algeria, as well as his own poems.

Prudence Uriri

Guest writer, Lillehammer City of Refuge 2008 - 2010

Prudence Uriri has been a freedom fighter of the Zimbabwean liberation war.


She worked at Zimbabwe's Broadcasting Corporation Television before joining the independent production house of CVU. She is the founder of the production company Eye for Africa. She came as an ICORN guest writer to Lillehammer and currently teaches film at the University of Tromsø, Norway.

Salem Zenia

Zènia is a journalist, poet and novelist, and the ICORN Guest Writer of Barcelona City of Refuge. He writes in the Kabylic-Berber language of Amazigh, and is a human rights activist. His books are prohibited in Algeria.

Nada Yousif

Nada Yousif is a poet and journalist from Iraq. Her writing centers mainly on women's rights issues and the current socio-political situation in Iraq. She is currently the ICORN Guest Writer in the city of Molde.

Chenjerai Hove

Chenjerai Hove, former ICORN Guest Writer of Stavanger City of Refuge, was a senior literary editor with Zimbabwe Publishing House and a journalist. He writes poems and novels in both English and Shona.


Hove studied literature and education in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He was president of the Zimbabwe Writers Union from 1984 to 1989, President of PEN Zimbabwe from 1990 to 2007, and a founding member of the Board of Directors of Zimbabwe Human Rights Association from 1990 to 2000.


His novel Bones has won several international awards. Among these, "Best in Zimbabwe" Zimbabwe Literary Award in 1988, and the NOMA award in 1989.It was voted among the 100 Best Books of Africa in the last 100 years in 2002, and among the 10 Best Books of Zimbabwe in the last 100 years in 2003.


His novel Ancestors won Second Prize from the Zimbabwe Literary Awards in 1997.


In 2001, Chenjerai Hove was awarded the German-Africa Prize for Freedom of Expression and Thought from the German Africa Foundation. As a result of his criticism of Mugabe's current policy, he now lives in exile. Once a Guest Writer in France and Norway, he has later helped others to gain from his experiences as the Writers' Representative of the ICORN Advisory Group.


In 2007, the play Travel News was selected to be performed by Norwegian Theaters for Youth. In 2009, Hove co-edited Writers, Writing on Conflict in Africa with Okey Ndibe.


To read Chenjerai Hove's short story "Sacrifice", go here. To read "A Letter to my Mother", go here, and for an extended biography go here. You can also listen to Chenjerai Hove read "Changamire" in his native tongue Shona here.


Hove recently received a stipend from the The Norwegian Non-fiction Writers And Translators Association (NFF). He is working on a memoir where he interconnects his own personal journey with the political developments in Zimbabwe since 1980. 


Kosar Fattahi

Kosar Fattahi was the ICORN Guest Writer in Oslo City of Refuge 2007-2009. He was arrested several times for his use of the Kurdish language and was eventually forced to flee to Iraq as a UN refugee.

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