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Stories of Each Other: Do We Care?

Past Event

On the eve of the European referendum, come and hear from writers, poets and newly arrived communities about the experience of leaving home and what happens when we arrive in a new place.

Hear 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 recount their experiences. Hear readings to uncover the reality for those fleeing conflict, poverty or terror. Listen to tales that build empathy, community and understanding.

Join our read-a-thon with Marina LewyckaKamila Shamsie, Deborah Levy, Inua Ellams and Jan Krasnowolski, with many more, to understand the countless experiences of migration. The evening will feature readings of fiction and poetry alongside spoken word performance, music and artwork.

There will be panel discussion chaired by Lucy Popescu, editor of A Country of Refuge. Lucy will be joined by novelist Sulaiman Addonia, novelist Jan Krasnowolski and Rita Chadha, chief executive officer of Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL). The panel will ask ‘Are artistic responses enough to influence the narrative on refugees and migrants in society?’

There will be 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, all available in Islington Libraries throughout Refugee Week and into July.

This event is part of Refugee Week 2016 and joins in with this year’s theme of ‘Welcome’. Join us as we ask whether stories can help rebuild the distance between each other.

We are delighted to welcome celebrated writers and poets, including:

  • Alireza Abiz
  • Sulaiman 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 will go towards creative writing workshops at the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants.

This event is supported by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European UnionAllianz Cultural Foundation, Berlin and the Polish Cultural Institute London.

This event will be livestreamed. Click here to tune in to our YouTube livestream, which will begin at 6.00pm (BST) on Wednesday 22 June 2016. Our panel discussion will aim to start at 7.15pm (BST) and we’ll be asking for your questions! Join in the conversation by tweeting @FreeWordCentre using the hashtag #FWEurope.

Please note the following planned aspects of tonight’s livestream:

    • 6.00pm – There will be a one minute silence at the start of the event for Jo Cox MP, a humanitarian and activist who was killed last week on her way to hold a constituency surgery. Today would have been her 42nd birthday.
    • 6.15pm – 6.30pm – The livestream will be temporarily switched off.
    • 7.00pm – 7.15pm – Refreshment break.
    • 9.00pm – Readings will finish.

Join in the conversation on Twitter by tweeting @FreeWordCentre using the hashtag #FWEurope.

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?

This evening is also part of a Time to Talk, European Houses of Debate debate series, happening with the support of the European Union’s Europe for Citizens Programme and taking place in cities around Europe, including Barcelona, Berlin, Bratislava, Brussels, Sofia and Warsaw. You can find out more about this series of debates and the Time to Talk network at TTTdebates.org (http://www.eurozine.com/timetotalk).


Sulaiman Addonia is an author residing in London. He was born as the son of an Eritrean mother and an Ethiopian father in Eritrea. He spent his early life in a refugee camp in Sudan, following the Om Hajar massacre in 1976. In his early teens, he lived and studied in Saudi Arabia. He sought asylum with his brother in London in 1990, and studied at University College London. His book The Consequences of Love (2009) follows Naser, an immigrant in an unfriendly land. His friends have fled town for cooler climes and left him to his dead-end job and the scrutiny of the religious police, who keep watch through the shaded windows of their government jeeps. He spends his time writing to his mother in Africa and yearning to meet a woman – but in a country that separates men and women with walls and veils he feels increasingly trapped.

Rita Chadha was born in East London and has worked locally, nationally and internationally for a variety of community and voluntary organisations. Her work and practice has always been focused upon equality and cohesion issues, as well as campaigning for a vibrant and dynamic civil society. Rita was brought into RAMFEL in 2006 as interim director to support a review of the organisation; upon completion of a six month contract, she was then appointed as chief executive. Since then, she has sought to expand the organisation’s geographical remit as well as broaden it’s range of services. In her spare time, Rita is an amateur clock maker and exercise and Bikram junkie. She also supports a number of other charities with challenge events and activities.

Jan Krasnowolski was born in 1972 in Krakow, Poland and is a writer, essayist and translator. He is the author of three books of creative fiction, 9 łatwych kawałków (2001), Klatka (2006) and Afrykańska elektronika (2013) [African Electronics].  African Electronics is made up of four long stories which explore the life and work of contemporary Polish emigrants. Jan is the winner of three Machina Magazine creative writing awards and his work has been published in various literary journals including Studium, Lampa, Odra, Ha!art and Kartki. In 2006, he settled in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. He is now working on his next novel, which is set in Britain. His work is currently being translated into English.

Lucy Popescu (chair) is a writer, editor and arts critic with a background in literature, theatre and human rights. She worked with English PEN, the English centre of PEN, the international association of writers, for over 20 years and was director of its Writers in Prison Committee from 1991 to 2006. She co-edited the PEN anthology Another Sky (Profile Books, 2007) featuring the work of writers that PEN has helped over the last 40 years. Her most recent anthology is Country of Refuge (2016), an anthology of writing on Asylum Seekers including brand new fiction, memoir, poetry and essays exploring what it really means to be a refugee. The anthology features Sebastian Barry, William Boyd, Amanda Craig, Moris Farhi MBE, Elaine Feinstein, Tim Finch, Hanif Kureishi, Marina Lewycka, Courttia Newland, Ruth Padel, Katharine Quarmby, Noo Saro Wiwa, Joan Smith, Roma Tearne and Alex Wheatle MBE, and more.

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