Seeking asylum in words

Friday, 02 October 2009


Professional poets and exiled writers join forces for new anthology.

Some of the UK's best-known poets have teamed up with talented exiled writers from the refugee and asylum seeker communities to produce a new collection of poetry.

See How I Land: Oxford Poets and Exiled Writers (Heaventree Press, 2009) gives a voice to those whose voices and stories are seldom heard.

It is the first project of its kind led by Oxford Brookes University's Poetry Centre, working together with Oxford Charity, Asylum Welcome.

Since 2007, the Centre has run a series of initiatives to take poetry out beyond the walls of the university.

Funded by the Arts Council, the project has involved 14 prominent poets working one-on-one with 14 asylum seekers and refugees in a series of creative writing workshops led by renowned biographer, Carole Angier.

Through sharing ideas and experiences, each pair of poets and refugee writers has produced several pieces of work for the anthology. These include a new sonnet sequence by John Fuller and the opening of a new novel by David Dabydeen.

The book features a foreword by Director of Liberty and Oxford Brookes Chancellor, Shami Chakrabarti, who has endorsed the project.

She said: 'In See How I Land the intersection of arts and human rights is vividly demonstrated. It brings distinguished names in contemporary poetry together with new voices from the refugee and asylum seeker communities.

'By doing so, it challenges us to think again about the fraught questions of sanctuary and immigration. More than this, it asks us to think again about what it is that we, as humans, value, and what it is that we share and what it is that we desire to protect and to celebrate: freedom, safety, family, and love.'

The picture shows Eden Habtemichael reading her poem inspired by her daughter, Segen, from the new anthology.

The books is available from www.asylum-welcome.org

Further information about the project and the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre