Poetic resistance: Witnessing Bahman’s resistance to torture and political violence— Vikki Reynolds, ‘Bahman’, Sekneh Hammoud-Beckett, Colin James Sanders & Gwen Haworth


This writing presents an orientation to work alongside survivors of torture and political violence centred in witnessing resistance and an activist informed ethical stance for decolonising and antioppression practice (Reynolds & polanco, 2012). This includes descriptions of what constitutes torture and political violence, and understandings of witnessing, and resistance as ever present and useful despite the fact that resistance is often not enough to stop oppression (Wade, 1997; Reynolds, 2010a).

This writing highlights Bahman, a survivor of torture from Iran, and illuminates his poetic resistance to torture, including poems that Bahman wrote during our therapeutic work together. I will provide enough context of the political situation and particular acts of violence and torture so that the acts of resistance in Bahman’s poems are understandable, and make visible structures of safety (Richardson & Reynolds, 2014, in press) and accountability practices. Bahman’s poems are interspersed throughout the text and following each of his poems there is a link to Gwen Haworth’s film of the poem read by Bahman in Farsi and Colin James Sanders in English. Bahman then reflects on the experience of re-visiting his resistance, our therapeutic work together, and his poems through an interview with Colin.

Finally, Sekneh Hammoud-Beckett offers a reflection of this work from her location as a woman from a Muslim background and as a therapist with a commitment to creative resistance (2007).