The Oxford Poets and Refugees Project was launched by the Poetry Centre at Oxford Brookes University in partnership with Asylum Welcome in autumn 2008. It brought together 14 established poets with 14 refugees and asylum seekers, all with a connection to Oxford, to work collaboratively on the writing of poetry.
'See How I Land', an anthology of poems resulting from the project was published in September 2009. It's now available to buy (details below) and all proceeds will be donated to Asylum Welcome.
See How I Land: Oxford Poets and Exiled Writers
An anthology of poems arising from a project bringing together refugees and exiled writers and established writers, all with a connection to Oxford, published by Heaventree Press.
The book features new work from Sadia Abdu, Filda Abelkec-Lukonyomoi, Afam Akeh, Carole Angier, Ali Askari, Annemarie Austin, Amina Benturki, Anne Berkeley, Carmen Bugan, Vahni Capildeo, Normalisa Chasokela, Abraham Conneh, David Dabydeen, Dawood, Dheere, John Fuller, Eden Habtemichael, Siân Hughes, Maria Jastrzębska, Gregory Leadbetter, Jamie McKendrick, Lucy Newlyn, Nazra Niygena, Jean Louis N’Tadi, Chuma Nwokolo, Bernard O’Donoghue, Deji Ogundimu, Adepeju Olopade, Yousif Qasmiyeh. More information is also available from the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre.
Buy a copy
The project began at Oxford Brookes in November and December 2008 with three, half-day workshops, led by the writer, biographer and creative writing lecturer, and Asylum Welcome Trustee, Carole Angier. Each writer was paired with a refugee for one-to-one discussions and mentoring. Over the course of the workshops the pair worked together to produce:
- a piece of work by the refugee, mentored by the poet;
- an explanatory paragraph, jointly authored, about the writing process - where the ideas and words came from; and
- a poem, by the published poet, inspired by the experience.
Participating refugees originated from many countries, including Algeria, Congo Brazzaville, Eritrea, Somalia, Palestine and Yemen. Participating poets include Carole Angier, John Fuller, Anne Berkeley, Carmen Bugan, Afam Akeh, David Dabydeen, Siân Hughes, Chuma Nwokolo, Bernard O'Donoghue, Annemarie Austin, Greg Leadbetter, Maria Jastrzębska, Jamie McKendrick, Vahni Capildeo, Lucy Newlyn.
Chuma Nwokolo, a Nigerian writer, and one-time Writer in Residence at Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, travelled from his home in Jersey to work with Congolese poet and playwright Jean-Louis N'tadi. Oxford poet Jamie McKendrick worked with a Farsi-speaking refugee from Afghanistan. John Fuller, acclaimed among Oxford's greatest contemporary writers, connected online via Skype to work with an Afghan poet and literary activist resident in Italy. David Dabydeen corresponded by email with an Oxfam worker and writer in Liberia.
Writers and refugees from the project presented their work at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival (29 March - 5 April 2009). Introduced by Carole Angier, participants included John Fuller, Bernard O'Donoghue, Maria Jastrzebska and Yousif Qasmiyeh (a Palestinian writer/refugee), Sian Hughes and Sadia, who is a refugee from Yemen / Somalia.
The project was developed together with Oxford Brookes University, and supported by Arts Council England. See http://ah.brookes.ac.uk/poetry/poetsandrefugees/ for details.
A collection of work resulting from the collaborations was published in September 2009 by Heaventree Press.
Selected writings will also be published online on the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre