Life in a suitcase

Their voices
Peeling memories away
layers of lives left littered

one packed suitcase
one hope
one chance

Back across the sea
buildings without occupancy
echoes through rooms
call them back home

Here they are
far from the familiar
family table and
some are missing

© Ali Grimshaw 2020

dVerse Quadrille #98

This poem was inspired by this article. Interview: Artists Rebuild Refugees’ Emotional Memories of “Home” Inside Suitcases By Jessica Stewart

Scale Model of Abandoned Home

“Working together with writer Ahmed Badr, architect and sculpture artist Mohamad Hafez listened to the stories of refugee families living in America and helped shine a light on their experiences. As two former refugees themselves—Hafez from Syria and Badr from Iraq—this is an issue close to their hearts. The result is Unpacked, an emotional multi-media installation where the voices of each family tell their experiences as viewers engage with an incredible scale model of the homes they’ve left behind.”

“Each model, created by Hafez, is packed into a suitcase as a symbol of the baggage these families carry forward into their new lives.  As Hafez listened carefully during the interviews, which often ran six to seven hours, he was sketching what he heard. Using what he discovered, he was able to mold their memories into a visual representation that leaves no question about the dire circumstances these refugees faced.”

Unpacked will be on view at the University of Madison-Wisconsin – February 5, 2020 to March 15, 2020.


33 thoughts on “Life in a suitcase

  1. Such an interesting way of expressing their experience, fears, sacrifices and loss in a form of artwork. It is a message that needs to be heard. Lovely that you used the quadrille as an opportunity to share this story. Thanks for joining in, Ali.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I too was so impressed with this story of listening to the refugees’ experiences and creating artwork to honor them. I wish I could get the word out to even more people. Thank you so much for reading.


    1. Louise, that was my response to this artwork as well. I wish I was close enough to see the actual exhibit. There are so many stories to be told. Thank you for listening and being strong enough to let your heart break open.


  2. There must be so many memories and so much hope packed in one suitcase, Ali. I found these lines so poignant and like the use of fricative alliteration, like whispering:
    ‘Here they are
    far from the familiar
    family table and
    some are missing’.

    Liked by 1 person

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