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Watch: Stories of Each Other: Do We Care?

  • By Lora Christy
  • 28th July 2016
On 22 June 2016, Free Word, in association with Counterpoints Arts and Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants, presented a read-a-thon and panel discussion with writers, poets and newly arrived communities. Catch up by watching the videos below.

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 LewyckaKamila 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?’

There were books by all speakers on sale, guest sales of MPT‘s special edition ‘The Great Flight‘ and a sample of Free Word’s and Islington Libraries‘ book collection of ‘Stories From New Places‘.

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:

  • Alireza Abiz
  • Sulaiman S. M. Y. Addonia
  • Sufiya Ahmed
  • Sita Bramachari
  • Amir Darwish
  • Inua Ellams
  • Xiaolu Guo
  • Jan Krasnowolski
  • Nineb Lamassu
  • Deborah Levy
  • Marina Lewycka
  • Lucy Popescu
  • Minna Salami
  • Kamila Shamsie
  • Shash Trevett

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.

This event was supported by the European Union Europe for Citizens ProgrammeAllianz Cultural Foundation, Berlin and the Polish Cultural Institute London.

You can watch a highlights video below featuring Xiaolu GuoAlireza AbizDeborah LevyInua EllamsShash TrevettMinna Salami and Jan Krasnawolski as well as the panel discussion with Lucy PopescuSulaiman 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:

Alireza Abiz
Sulaiman S. M. Y. Addonia
Sufiya Ahmed
Anna Blasaik
, translator
Sita Bramachari
Rita Chadha, Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL)
Amir Darwish
Inua Ellams
Xiaolu Guo
Jan Krasnowolski
Nineb Lamassu
Deborah Levy
Marina Lewycka
Lucy Popescu
Minna Salami
Kamila Shamsie
Juliet Stevenson
, patron of Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants
Shash Trevett

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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