See How I Land: Oxford Poets and Exiled Writers

  • SeeHowILand-AWdoor

    The Project

    In recent years, the Poetry Centre has initiated a number of community projects such as See How I Land: Oxford Poets and Exiled Writers, which was supported by Arts Council England and the charities Asylum Welcome and Refugee Resource. This important project aimed to support the creation of new forms of artistic expression amongst established poets and those who had not written poetry before but wanted to find a way to reflect upon their experiences of migration or working with migrants.

    In doing so, it brought fourteen established poets together with fourteen refugees and asylum seekers to work collaboratively on some new poetry. See How I Land gave a voice to those whose voices are seldom heard, and whose stories are often judged to be lacking in credibility by the UK asylum system. Through a series of public events, articles in the media, and the publication of an anthology by The Heaventree Press in 2009, the project contributed to a wider public understanding of issues around immigration, asylum, refugees, and writers in exile.

    In See How I Land the intersection of arts and human rights is vividly demonstrated… It asks us to think again about what it is that we, as humans, value, what it is that we share, and what it is that we desire to protect and to celebrate: freedom, safety, family, and love.

    Shami Chakrabarti

    The Anthology: See How I Land

    The collection arising from these collaborations - See How I Land: Oxford Poets and Exiled Writers (Heaventree Press, 2009) - features a Foreword by Shami Chakrabarti, and includes a new sonnet sequence by John Fuller and the opening of a novel-in-progress by David Dabydeen.

    The other writers whose work is featured in the collection are:

    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, Dawood, Dheere, 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.

    Asylum seekers and poets are both searching. Refugees are trying to find a haven for themselves and their families, writers a home for stories, dreams and ideas… When Oxford Brookes brings these two worlds together they give us ‘outsiders’ a place where all our words, and all our lives, are valued.

    Benjamin Zephaniah

    The Poetry

    The title of See How I Land comes from a line in Gregory Leadbetter’s poem, ‘Translation’, which was written for the project.

    You can get a sneak preview of two further poems from the anthology - Bernard O’Donoghue’s ‘Emigration’ and a passage from Yousif Qasmiyeh’s ‘Holes’ - here.

    Jean-Louis N’Tadi’s ‘Flight of the Writers’ - a poem inspired by the project, but not included in the anthology - can be found here.