Saturday, 16 June 2018

#RefugeeWeek2018 Diary: poetry, events, exhibition, publication and football!

Exhibition: 'Essence of Welcome'




Exhibition
Celebrating Refugee Week (18 – 22 June), an exhibition of poetry and images from the Art and Writing Class held at the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. The class is run by Sita Brahmachari and Jane Ray, Writer and Artist-in-Residence at the Centre. 
South Library, 115 Essex Road, N1 0ST Monday 11 – Saturday 23 June
Monday and Wednesday 9.30am-8pm, Friday and Saturday 9.30am-5pm. Closed Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Free

#Librarieswelcomerefugees 

Through the doors of the library
Into the marble foyer
We come
To find our poems and paintings welcoming us
We sing our song of what it means to learn to speak, laugh, play, write and read in your mother
tongue
To sing in Lingala
Lingala is the language that my heart first heard
Lingala is the language that my voice first spoke
Lingala is the language of my heart and soul
Oh! Lingala, Lingala, Lingala

This is a good place to find our words and paintings
This is a place to plant ideas
Where no book is censored
Where you will not be placed in prison for expressing what you think, what you believe, choosing the
wrong books
For painting an image that the government does not like
This is place of freedom
Of independence
Where you can choose the books you want to read
This knowledge you can reach for with your own hands, unforced
Libraries are not free in all countries
They are not open doors for everyone
You can go, only if you have the money to pay
Here you can enter
On a grey winter’s day
Use the computer
Drink a cup of tea and read a book
Here you can sit in peace and warmth

Here you can quench your thirst for knowledge
Join a group
Here you can paint the colour of ideas
Hear a child’s laughter
Here you can spend your energy reading a book,
Journeying wherever you wish
Not only to improve your English
But to nourish your mind
Here is a place
To fly free in your imagination
To lose and find yourself again in words
Slide your mind across the marble floor
Up the spiral staircase
To where the sun shines through a globe window

The library is a place of light
Illumination
When we walk out onto the pavement
We see a woman is spending her time to see our exhibition
It is a good feeling
To see her looking at our paintings
Reading our stories

Post cards of art and writing are available from: 
www.islingtoncentre.co.uk   @RefugeeWeek    @IslingtonCentre


Saturday 16th June
Harberdasher's Girl's School Invites Islington Centre Members to a family day out incuding swimming, art, drumming and a barbecue.

Monday 18th June
Islington Libraries school events with Jane Ray and Sita Brahmachari

Workshops
Sita Brahmachari and Jane Ray will be working with specially invited classes of Year 3 or Year 4 children to explore refugee experience of people living in their community. 


Wednesday 20th June
Archer Academy (Patron of Reading School) Year 10 assembly. Talking of the depiction of refugee characters in my stories and how my work in community over the years feeds into writing.

Sunday 24th June
Amnesty International #Familiestogether #Footballwelcomes
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/families-together-festival-tickets-46188923313
Come and have a family day and enjoy football fun and art. I'll be offering the welcome and writing a poem about why it's vital that children should have the right be reunited with their families. Enjoy a sunday with your family and lobby for people like Amal and Muhammad to do the same.# http://refugeestogether.uk/#group-muhammad-and-amals-story-4QqS4NxavA

Publication: 'A Country To Call Home'  Ed. Lucy Propescu ' Published by Unbound following June 2018 Launch. With contributions from many authors in  the YA book world about the experience of refugee children.

'A Country to Call Home implores us to build bridges, not walls. It is intended as a reminder of our shared humanity, seeking to challenge the negative narratives that so often cloud our view of these vulnerable young people, and prevent us giving them the empathy they deserve.'

There are so many extraordinary stories here. My contribution is 'Amir and George' (First published by Stripes/ Crisis in 'I'll Be Home for Christmas). It tells the story of Amir, a young refugee child integrating into a city school. He enters the George Orwell Public Speaking Competition and finds himself at the finals at Eton where George Orwell went to school. The story, as the title suggests, is a meeting between Amir and George Orwell.  Lucy Prosescu set up a wonderful scheme in which authors could bid for Chris Riddell's wonderful illustrations. Authors were then able to select a school library to benefit by receiving copies of the book. Getting these stories into children's hands feels vital in our times.  Writing this story made me think deeply about my purpose of being a writer for children and young people. Chris Riddell recalled his seminal  image of Alan Kurdi captioned by the words ' Swarms' forcing David Cameron to experience his own de-humanising language.  I'm proud to have Chris Riddell's wonderful portrait of George Orwell as a reminder of why so many writers for young people are carrying our notebooks with us too... and insisting that the individual stories are told. 


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