Maryam Mitra, the only poet from Afghanistan, has been awarded the “Adelbert von Chamisso Literary Prize” for her literary achievements. She believes that such awards provide a platform for the voices of women through international forums.
The “Adelbert von Chamisso Literary Prize” for 2023 was presented to Maryam Mitra, a poet from Afghanistan, during a special ceremony.
Maryam is a poet, journalist, and media and communications researcher. She was born in Afghanistan in 1992 and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Kabul and a master’s degree in sociology from Germany. Currently, she works as a researcher at Leipzig University, one of the world’s oldest universities and the second-oldest in Germany, located in the city of Leipzig in the state of Saxony.
Ms. Maryam Mitra, the poet of the collection “Life on the Margins,” said in an interview with Khaama Press that awarding such prizes to Afghan women enables the reflection of their voices through international platforms. She added that this award is not just an individual achievement but belongs to all Afghan women and girls.
Maryam further stated, “I strive to be a voice for Afghan women. Winning international literary awards for Afghan literature, especially women’s poetry, is of great significance. Poets’ discussions and the introduction of Afghan literature through international platforms create an opportunity for Afghan literature to reach a wider global audience and for speakers of other languages to become familiar with Afghan women and the overall situation in Afghanistan.”
Maryam Mitra has published two poetry collections, one in Persian and the other in German, and is considered a prominent figure in Afghan poetry and literature.
She describes literature as a saving force for expressing phenomena such as migration and exile: “Speaking in poetry is not just a space for expressing emotions for me; it is also a space for thinking and reflecting, as well as a tool for expressing and reflecting my experiences as a female exiled writer.”
This comes at a time when women and girls in Afghanistan have faced violations of fundamental rights, including education, employment, and participation over the past two years.
Reflecting on the current situation in Afghanistan under Taliban control, Maryam said, “The Kabul I know, which is present in my memories and poems, is not the Kabul I see now in videos, pictures, and news. However, I remain hopeful to see a Kabul where girls return to school, laugh out loud, and dream for the future. To continue and stand strong, we must be able to wipe our tears away, listen to each other’s voices, and believe in the strength and courage of women who are fighting for change in many parts of the world.”
The Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts Prize is awarded annually by the “Friedrich Boer Foundation” and the “Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts” to writers whose work holds value and appeal for German readers, even though their native language is not German. It comes with a prize of 10,000 euros.
It is worth noting that Maryam Mitra is the only poet from Afghanistan to have received this award, which has been presented since 1985 to writers who do not write in their native language but contribute to German literature.