Freedom from Torture - I am not a bestseller by Hasani

I am not a bestseller by Hasani

Write to Life says:

Creative collaborations with different artistic partners have been a big part of taking Write to Life’s message to places Freedom from Torture might not easily reach. One of our longstanding supporters is the poet and musician John Hegley. In 2013 he allowed us to use his poems as the catalyst for a workshop; the poems the group produced in response were then read by them, with John performing his originals, at a an event at our London centre. Hasani chose to think himself into the mind of a neglected book, sitting quietly on the shelves of his beloved Brixton library.

Hasani writes:

It's now five years since I wrote 'I am not a Bestseller'. It was an unforgettable period in my life. I felt lonely and spent most of my time in Brixton library in the company of books and strangers. As an asylum seeker, I felt lonely and at times unwanted. I looked forward to Write to Life workshops where I was in the company of fellow asylum seekers.

A lot has happened in my life since that time. Now as a refugee I am past the horrors I felt as an asylum seeker, even though sometimes I am still made to feel like a stranger in this country. Each time I read the poem it takes me back to the library when I sat by the window, gazing at the life outside, wishing to belong.

I am not a bestseller by Hasani

I am not a bestseller

Whatever that may be


Perched here on the fourth shelf

in Brixton Library.


Clearly visible, but ignored

Lonely, marooned between a thousand other books


When I told my author

It was something of a blow

He smashed the keyboard

And ripped my manuscript.

I said, ‘Please stop!

I am just a simple book.’

But he said ‘No’


I sit here all day, listening, as

Fifty Shades of Gray

Who’s booked for her next trip

Even before she returns from this one

Speaks of her conquests, of readers who gorge on her

Sensuous tales of seduction and the like.


I hear how many homes The Da Vinci Code has visited

Snuggled under many pillows, as his crumpled and dog eared corners proudly prove.

And how his words have spawned conspiracy theories around the world.


Then A Confederacy of Dunces recounts the gales of laughter

he has provoked

in trains, buses or trams


Even War and Peace, that Tolstoy tome

Occasionally makes it out into the world.

Though, with more characters than the Bible

He lulls all his readers to sleep.


I’m sorry, dear author - I only wish I was any of them

but I’m just another book


Not even half a star shines

on my Amazon review

I wonder what other copies of me

In other libraries are going through


Pity the ones still stuck in bookshops

Not even making it to the till

Gathering dust, forgotten

I am not a bestseller


But at least

No Ayatollah will waste his breath proclaiming a fatwa

On my author, like they did to the Verses.

Nor will I ever cause a civil war like Uncle Tom’s Cabin.


And those school children, sitting on the table with

Their backs to my shelf, discussing

John Hegley’s ‘Poem de Terre’ don’t care a hoot

That I exist.


I am not a bestseller

All accompanying art for Write to Life’s 20 pieces for Refugee Week is by members of the Open Art Studio group at Freedom from Torture.



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