A young man called Ashraf Fayadh faces execution by the Saudi Arabian government for ‘apostasy’. Ashraf is a poet and atheist. It is his views on religion that has put his life in danger.

Tonight poets around the world come together to speak on his behalf. To share our poems in solidarity. Here is my contribution.



Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

Clearly no one told Saudi

How can we be afraid of just words

Words well thought fly like birds

And we just have to keep tweeting




There’s nothing more validly strong

Nothing that could be less wrong

Than speaking words.

We humans are the storytelling mammals

But here we are acting like anmals

What are we doing?


2 thoughts on “Ashraf

  1. Reblogged this on Gold Arts Award Research Blog and commented:

    On Thursday 14th January poets of York met in a small room above a bar to join in a global poetry reading in aid of Amnesty International’s work to stop the excecution of Ashraf Fadayha, a Saudi Arabian poet who was arrested by religious police for a string of petty offences including atheism.

    This was more than just trying to save one man, it was trying to protect the freedom of speech that western poets take for granted. I’d never been to a poetry event which was also a fundraiser before, and it worked really well.

    Ashraf’s poems and relevant poems on the subject of injustic and freedom of speech were read and performed. A bucket was handed around to collect money for Amnesty International. I felt this worked well as there was no pressure to donate large amounts, though as people were buying drinks at the bar they were able to donate their change.

    A few days later we found out that Ashraf Fadayha’s death sentence had been overturned, and instead he is now sentenced to 800 lashes and 8 years in prison. Even this seems excessive, though his life has been spared. It was probably not the groups of poets around the world reading his poetry that saved Ashraf’s life. It was much more likely the legal aid or negotiations with charities like Amnesty. But the solidarity that poets and their work can form around one individual or cause is impressive. Though we couldn’t be in the courts fighting it will be of comfort to Fadayha that the work -which he is now going to have to contest in front of the media- is being read by people who agree. People who live in countries were we are allowed to decide who we are.

    This was a good example of poetry being used for charitable causes.


  2. Pingback: Poetry for Charitable Causes – Gold Arts Award Research Blog

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