I Belong to this City

Issam Alnajm’s poem “I Belong to this City” is an ode to Bochum, where Issam found a “new home” after his arrival in Germany in 2015.

Issam Alnajm © Sami Omar
Issam Alnajm © Sami Omar

I belong to this city
I breathe her air
meet her children
and protect her face

I belong to this city
albeit I was born elsewhere
did not grow up here
I am proud of this city
here I found my first love
my first friendship
and the first freedom.

I belong to this city
I can talk to her
understand her
because I know her language
I know her streets
her trees
I respect her culture
she is part of the earth
which is our mother

I belong to this city
where people
hug in greeting
where the soil was mixed with coal
and where my dreams
are on their way
to come true

Here I have lived for three years
like a son of this city
she protects me
and I give her my respect.

 

 

Issam Alnajm about himself and his poems:

Issam Alnajm is my name and I was born in 1984 in Alsuayda, Syria. Alsuayda is a city in the south of Syria, located on a mountain and has a volcanic and stony landscape. The city is mostly inhabited by Druze, who are a minority in Syria, and has many Roman ruins.

In Syria I completed a two-year training as an electrical engineer and I waited a few years as a waiter. Since I was 10 years old I have been writing literary texts, initially in my mother tongue Arabic. In Arabic I wrote mostly poems, but had no opportunity to publish them.

I had to leave my country because of the war. Since 2015 I have lived in Germany and currently live in Bochum. Bochum has become my new home and here I continued to write my poems.

My literary career

I have been writing my texts in German since the end of 2016. Writing directly in German is a challenge for me, but it enables my messages and words to reach Germans. In addition, the German language is a literary and enriched language.

My poems deal with different topics, e.g. flight, home, longing, love, humanity and life. Since 2017 I have been performing them on different stages with different ensembles. In Bochum I have been writing for the newspaper “Neu in Deutschland” (German Reading Prize 2016) since the end of 2016 and in 2018 it was nominated for the National Integration Prize of the German Chancellor. It was among the Top 10.

Working for the newspaper has opened many doors for me, given me numerous opportunities to meet many nice people and to develop my poems further. In this context I regularly bring my poems to the stage in readings, among others with the WDR Cologne 2017, in the Musikforum Ruhr and at various theaters. In addition, I have been able to publish and present my poems in various publications, e.g. in the anthology book “Von Fluchten und Wiederfluchten” published in 2017 by D. Artur Nickel. In November 2018 I received the 1st prize in the competition “Kurz und schmerzlos” (Short and sweet) of the Literarische Gesellschaft Bochum.

What the future brings

A few months ago I started a three-year training as a geriatric nurse at the Diakonie in Bochum. Working as a geriatric nurse is on the one hand a humane profession in which I can deal with people and on the other hand a secure and future job. What I would still like to do is to continue and further develop my literary path and make a difference in this life.

To me, volunteering means being a part of this society and being close to many people. I can say that I have already integrated myself and I am proud of it. Integration is give and take, i.e. I get to know a new culture, new language and new life and take something from it, at the same time I give something beautiful and good from our cultures.

Alnajm, Issam, 2018: Ich gehöre zu dieser Stadt, published in its original language German in kohero magazine. Created and awarded in the context of the “Kurz und schmerzlos” competition of the Literary Society Bochum, November 2018.

Published here with kind permission by kohero magazine and Issam Alnajm.