I live in Kypseli with my brother, Bryan1, and three other housemates. When I started attending the Museum2 programme, I still hadn’t started school here in Greece. So, I had enough time to think about the discussions we had there on the artworks, even after I came home. Sometimes, what’s more, I would even write a poem.
Writing poems is something I’ve done since childhood. I started reading the Psalms of Solomon in English, which influenced me to write my own poems. My mother encouraged me to keep reading the Bible, while my teachers at school were impressed by my level of English and the quality of my poems.
Initially, I didn’t believe them, but all the teachers I’ve had, even when I moved school, used to tell me the same thing and encouraged me to continue. One of them advised me to read Shakespeare and other poets, and so I read Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice. I’ve also seen Shakespeare’s plays at the theatre, and I loved them all. This is why I thought that indeed I should keep on writing my own poems. And so I did.
One of my notebooks, where I had written quite a lot of poems, was stolen. I thought I had lost everything, that I would never be able to write again. Indeed, over the last year I almost forgot about this favorite habit and, during the time I was in Moria3, Lesvos, I didn’t put pen to paper. I just started talking with people, who said how good I was, and, thus, I started again. In July, when I came to Athens, I continued even further. I want to write a book. I don’t write just poems, what I do first is to find a story. Most of my poems are based on human stories. But my biggest inspiration is girls. I imagine myself being with them, speaking beautiful words. This is how I write, initially I have to find a story and then write the verses. Moreover, I plan to write about my experience in Moria. But I have to find a story first.
Some of the works we saw in the Museum4 made me think about human relationships today, others about the conditions refugees faced in the past and how these have changed over the years. Finally, others made me think of more personal matters. For instance, Τhe Raft, by Bill Viola, depicts many different people, each absorbed by something different and personal and not even looking at each other. Then, the work shows what can happen when people are not united, when they’re selfish about preserving the peace and not ready to sacrifice anything for the sake of unity.
Vlassis Caniaris, in his work Hopscotch, shows the rules a refugee must follow in a foreign country. We too, in Zimbabwe, have the same game and I know that in order to play, one has to follow some rules. That’s what a refugee must do in order to adapt to a new country. I identify with the figure with his foot on the suitcase, as if he were trying to understand the rules in order to play correctly. That is exactly what I do so that I can integrate in this country and have a successful life. I often think that in the past, when the artist created this work, things for refugees must have been worse. At least today we have the internet and several organizations and people who are helping refugees, despite the language barrier, prepare their documents and find a place to live and be safe.
But the most inspiring work for me was Sails by Bia Davou. In this work, sails are like people with different opinions about life, of different origins, religion etc., having different orientations, probably due to different goals. But, still, all the sails are fixed on the same base, just like humans who share many common traits.
I am really impressed by the story of Odysseus, which this work made me think of, and I’d like to learn more about his adventures and his wife, Penelope, who was waiting for him back home. As soon as I returned home, I thought of myself and my girlfriend, who is far away. With these thoughts, I wrote this poem to her:
I’m out for greener pastures
But do not put our love past us
Even though I am away right now
I feel your proximity in my heart
My love has reached its intensity
How art thou my princess of grace
How art thou my queen of bliss
Keep me in thine heart
For forever we are a part.
Days come and go without you
I have tough love but I miss you thats the truth
“Does true love exist”, why would anybody
ask that, when we exist.
Await my presence even if Prince George comes for you
I’m at war, for us, trying to reach success
Have a great heart like Penelope
I your Odysseus am on my way
It might take time but be strong.
I have great stamina like Kong5.
My body and mind is only troubled without you
My heart drips, deep red
My adrenaline travelling at the speed of light
“You are gonna miss me when you gone”, you were right.
A young beautiful lady from the valley
Beauty, charisma, queen, you define it
Do people really get heartbroken?
I haven’t seen it
You own my heart, beautiful
You are my life, Leandra.
I wish nothing but success in your life.
Behind a successful man, there’s a beauty who strives
Thats you my lady.
I had die for you
Let it happen and I’ll show you the truth
My true African queen, you give life to nature
Fine body like a mermaid from Mars
And you shine brighter than the stars.
I wanna be with you and only you
I wanna wake up next to you every morning
I will be there with you
Happiness, sadness, I’ll be there
You own my heart, Leandra.
1 John’s brother, Βryan, also participated in the programme.
2 Refers to the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens.
3 Refers to the Reception and Identification Center in Moria, Lesvos.
4 Refers to the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens.
5 Refers to (King) Kong.