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On the eve of the European referendum, we heard from writers, poets and newly arrived communities about the experience of leaving home and what happens when we arrive in a new place.
We heard stories from across decades and from all around the world as writers from Iraq to Sri Lanka, Ethiopia to Iran and many nations in between recounted their experiences. We heard readings to uncover the reality for those fleeing conflict, poverty or terror, and we listened to tales that built empathy, community and understanding.
Our read-a-thon featured Marina Lewycka, Kamila Shamsie, Deborah Levy, Inua Ellams and Jan Krasnowolski, with many more, aiming to understand the countless experiences of migration. The evening featured readings of fiction and poetry alongside spoken word performance, music and artwork.
There was a panel discussion chaired by Lucy Popescu, editor of A Country of Refuge. Lucy was joined by novelist Sulaiman S. M. Y. Addonia, Jan Krasnowolski and Rita Chadha, chief executive officer of Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL). The panel asked ‘Are artistic responses enough to influence the narrative on refugees and migrants in society?’
This event was part of Refugee Week 2016 and joined in with this year’s theme of ‘Welcome’.
We were delighted to welcome celebrated writers and poets including:
To read more about each of the above speakers, click here.
All ticket proceeds from this fundraising event went towards creative writing workshops at the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants.
You can watch a highlights video below featuring Xiaolu Guo, Alireza Abiz, Deborah Levy, Inua Ellams, Shash Trevett, Minna Salami and Jan Krasnawolski as well as the panel discussion with Lucy Popescu, Sulaiman S. M. Y. Addonia, Jan Krasnowolski and Rita Chadha.
Or, click here to watch the full recording featuring many more writers, poets and speakers.
The poems read by Alireza Abiz are available to read here.
The images featured in the films were created by students at the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants Art and Writing Class run by Artist-in-Residence Jane Ray and Writer-in-Residence Sita Brahmachari, 2016.
An audio recording of the full event is also available here.
The event also featured a performance by Amir Darwish, a spoken word artist, who performed his poem Where I come from which you can watch below.
You can also read Amir’s poem in full here.
Speakers at this event included:
Sulaiman S. M. Y. Addonia
Anna Blasaik, translator
Rita Chadha, Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL)
Juliet Stevenson, patron of Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants
This event is part of Free Word’s series, Unravelling Europe. Against a backdrop of increasing fragmentation fuelled by anxiety and fear, the conditions and values that underpin our open, democratic societies are under threat. Putting artists at the heart of the discussion, alongside thinkers and speakers from other disciplines, Unravelling Europe sets out to ask: why is this so, what are the consequences and how might we act to counter them?
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