To mark Refugee Week in this year of 'Homecoming' and the beginning of a new showcase for writing on the Scottish PEN website, the Writers in Exile Committee issued an invitation to refugees, asylum seekers and others whose first language in not English, and to all Scottish PEN members, to submit poems or short pieces of prose on the theme of 'Home'. A selection from the excellent response is reproduced here and on the Scottish Refugee Council website
Ak Welsapar was born in 1956 in the former Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan. After six years of membership, he was excluded from the Soviet Writers’ Association following his publication of investigative articles about major ecological problems in Turkmenistan. He left his home country in 1993 and now lives in Sweden, where he is a member of the Swedish Writers’ Association. He has also been an honorary member of the International PEN-Club since 1993. He has published 19 books and received many national and international awards. He writes in Russian, Turkmen and Swedish. His works have been published in a number of languages including Turkmen, Russian, Ukrainian, English, French, Swedish, Spanish, Turkish, Mongolian and a few languages from the former USSR. He was invited to represent Turkmenistan in the Poetry Parnassus event held at the South Bank in London this summer as part of the Cultural Olympiad and the poem we reproduce is the one he read on that occasion.