Sunday, May 23, 2010


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ALBUM $20.00

LYRICS © Mohsen Soltany MUSIC © Geoffrey Datson 2001


The Wall
Artist: Mohsen with vocals by Annette Hughes
Album: demo
Mohsen Soltanyzand is a refugee from Iran who endured 4 years ddetention in Australia. Mohsen is also a poet who writes about his experiences with a stark reality. Sydney musicians Annette Hughes and Geoffrey Datson have been visiting Mohsen for about a year, and have set some of his lyrics to music. This is a sample of the collaboration - a sparse tune driven by middle eastern sounds and basic percussion, showcasing the husky vocals of Annette who almost chants the lyrics. Lovely production and an important message that needs to be heard. All proceeds from the CD go to Chilout, a campaign to get children out of detention.

Dan Buhagiar - Wobbly Radio


HQ #95 p 22

MOHSEN has dedicated this album to the children in detention.

All proceeds from the sale of this album go to chilout.


I began visiting Villawood merely to see for myself what was really going on. We were introduced to Mohsen on the first day, and triedto visit as often as possible. Much of the afternoon on these days was spent copying out his handwritten poems, going over them with him, as he refered constantly to an Arabic pocket translator.

We'd take the words back to the studio and try to come up with beats and sounds that worked with his words. The vocal track on Sunset, the first one recorded, like many of the songs on the album was recorded in one take. I asked the vocalists to get a feel for the music first, and then get them to do one pass without stopping. Invariably, that first take was the most tentative and the most expressive. All credit for the melodies goes to the girls who found them and plucked them out of the ether. Having no idea how the melody will go until you are doing it in the booth puts you in a kind of 'nowhere land'; not knowing what will come next, always dependent on the previous note for a clue to the next one. There is no time but the present in this situation, much like where Mohsen had been for the past four years - in limbo.

As a result of our collaboration, I have come to experience his poetry mouth to ear - the way it is meant to be, and he has introduced me to the archaic beauty of Arabic musical forms. Meeting Mohsen has reinforced the music I have always heard. It is like a circle that has been completed creatively, as my first instrument was an Appalachian Dulcimer, which originated in that region.

To my mind, since being here, he has become an Australian poet. He is writing in Australia about Australia for Australians, so by definition is now part of our 'cultural product' that we hope will find its audience.

Mohsen's love and longing for beauty and justice corresponds to mine. I have listened to his heart and can find no hatred there, although his life behind razor wire held little promise. I am inspired by his positivism and humour in spite of his interminable incarceration.

Since having had the opportunity to know Mohsen and many other detainees, it has become increasingly difficult to tolerate the constant and systematic denigration of these people, or understand how our Government can treat them with such disdain, and downright callousness.

Happily, Mohsen was finally lreleased in January 2003. He is free on a full visa and welcome in my home.


On her first visit to Villawood she was sickened by the sight of the razor wire, and then appalled by the stories she was told by detainees, especially the youths - the same age as her own son - who are being forced to spend their innocent adolescent lives in prison. She sings three of the songs and has produced the album in the hope that music will in some way counter the process of demonisation that has already begun.

Actress (Praise and Garage Days soon to be released) and presenter on MTV, Yvette has added her voice to the album because of her concern about the issue of youth suicide. She is deeply involved with the Reachout program, and sees the correlation between youth suicide rates in the community and the attempts by youths in detention on their own lives.

Jane is a young film maker and singer. She made her first visit to Villawood to meet Mohsen after she had recorded her song, and began to think seriously about the issue. There she met detainees and heard their stories, and, as with most first time visitors, spent the trip back to the city in a state of shock.

Matt is a sound engineer and musician who has donated hours of spare time to getting the album sounding right. Much of the recording was done in less than perfect circumstances, and were it not for his calm pragmatism, and hundreds of hours of time, the album would still not be ready.

Australian Dream



POETRY & MUSIC © Mohsen Soltany 2006


Deepest thanks to all involved in this project for your generous donation of time, energy and expertise, and to everyone engaged in the vigilance and maintenance of human rights everywhere.

Thanks also to Chilout, Refugee Action Coalition (NSW, VIC & QLD), and especially to citizens Mary E Nilon, Helen Lewers and Tahiti (aged 5), who have helped to underwrite the project. And to Ardeshir Gholipour for his image on the cover.

President, Melbourne PEN
Message on the occasion of the launch of Mohsen Soltany Zand's
'Australian Dream' Spoken Word CD

On behalf of Melbourne PEN I congratulate Mohsen on the launch of his spoken word CD.

It is a wonderful achievement in so many ways. To emerge from 4 heart breaking years of detention with the creative spirit intact is an achievement in itself. To create such a powerful and moving work in English as an adopted language is extraordinary. Mohsen has assembled a wonderful group of committed activist and artists to perform his work.

The poetry covers a vast range of contemporary concerns. Mohsen's is an important voice that has much to say about who we are as a nation, and above all, the compassion and understanding we must develop if we are to progress and become a welcoming and
inclusive society.

I also congratulate Ardeshir Gholipour for his powerful work, 'Panic', which features as the cover of the CD. No other painting encapsulates so profoundly the horror of long term detention. This is the face of a man on the brink of utter despair. It is the face of innocence defiled.

It is the face of our national shame. It is a piercing cry for freedom and understanding. It is an image that haunts us, and poses many questions. How did we do this to people who only strove to do what our own forbears did: find a haven for their families, and a place to begin life anew.

This is an important CD, beautifully realised, and an extremely significant addition to a growing chorus of Australian voices proclaiming: We will not forget these gross violations of human rights, and cruel treatment of our brothers and sisters from across the seas. We welcome you, and salute your courage in making your perilous journeys to freedom.

Arnold Zable
November 1, 2005

The speakers (order of appearance):

Bryan Brown is an actor;

Jason Whalley is a member of Frenzal
Rhomb and JJJ presenter;

Sandy Evans is recognised as one of the
leading saxophonists (tenor and soprano)
and composers in contemporary jazz
in Australia. She leads the
Sandy Evans Trio;

Suzanne Tzannes is a psychotherapist and refugee activist (who worked on Mohsen's
case which saw him finally released),

Linsey Pollak is well known all around
Australia as a musician, instrument maker, composer, musical director and community
music facilitator;

Annette Hughes is a singer and producer
of the album;

Geoffrey Datson is a poet, musician and
recording artist;

Tom Keneally is the author of
The Tyrant's Novel
(Random House) among
many other works of fiction and is a tireless humanitarian;

KirstenWhalley is a musician;

Ross Tzannes is a solicitor;

Tony Stephens is a journalist who wrote
one of the first stories about the reality of
Villawood in the SMH;

Zachary Steel is a clinical psychologist
who has exposed the psychological damage
caused by indefinite incarceration;

Ngareta Rossell is a former journalist and indefatigable advocate for human rights;

Bruno Brayovic is a member of the band Peabody;

Lindsay McDougall is a member of
Frenzal Rhomb and JJJ presenter;

Claudia Karvan is an actress and civil
rights activist;

Ian Sutherland is that extraordinary
creature, an 'ordinary Australian';

Tony Kevin is the author of
"A certain Maritime Incident",

Senator Kerry Nettle
was among he
first politicians to recognise the
truth and act;

Tomas Riley Brown (bubba) is innocent -
he came with his mother to visit detainees;

Johanne Gow is Thomas' mother;

Linda Janssen is of the Wicked
Beat Sound System , and was born
in the Villawood reception centre:

John Bell is Australia's finest actor, no
stranger to tragedy;

Robert Macaulay is a lawyer;

Jeffrey Kamins is the rabbi at
Temple Emanuel, Woollahra;

Rosie Scott is an author and driving
force of PEN's Writers in
Detention Committee;

Angela Stretch is the producer of 2SER's Wordjammin Program;

Hon Dr Carmen Lawrence is the federal
member for Fremantle;

Tanya Mconvell is a broadcaster for
Radio 2XXFM, and producer of
"Voices on the Line" excerpted here;

Dr Alexander Tzannes is a Medical
doctor and surrogate brother to Mohsen:

Linda Cropper is an actress;

Sarah Stephen is a journalist and
refugee -rights activist;

Zal Shabazi is in limbo;

Lucy Bell is an actress;

Sen Andrew Bartlett is Queensland
Democrat senator,

John Highfield is an ABC journalist
and broadcaster:


Australian Dream version:

Mohsen version:

print version:


The sun sets on the horizon
Warm and ancient
In the falling darkness
It projects a bold shade of red
the heart of the world.

Night is rising and the day is finished
The stars mourn the dying sun,
Flickering, crying, for the day
the sky cries raindrops
Sometimes blood.
A falling star
Can clean the face of the sky
Wiping away the tears.
When the sky cries
The wind is its comfort
making the light of love,
the morning dew he lover's cover.

If I go into the sunset
I have no sky
I have no moon or cloud for crying
I have no wind to make me comfortable
I have no falling star.
I sleep on the ground, soil my blanket
If creatures feast on my body
Then I am alive
Within myself

More information on Australian Dream.

Refugee Day in Melbourne

My book will be published in time for Refugee Day in Melbourne,

In the meantime, check out my page at Facebook

Saturday, May 22, 2010