Tuesday, June 28, 2016

'Translation': A Poem for Refugees, Migrants, Exiles, Humans


Take away the hands that held me,
the eyes in which I first saw
love, the mouths from which I learned
to speak.

Take away the house I played in,
the bed I slept in, knowing
they were near. Take their footsteps
from the earth.

Take the city and the sky with it,
the streets I walked looking
for them, take the plane from around me
in mid-air.

See how I land with what they gave me.

Hands that are ready to hold,
eyes in which you will see
love, a mouth that is learning
to speak.

A note on this poem:

In 2008-09 I was part of a poetry project run by Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, and supported by Arts Council England, Asylum Welcome and Refugee Resource.

The project brought together fourteen poets and fourteen refugees and asylum seekers to work collaboratively on new poetry.

The collection of poems arising from these collaborations - See How I Land: Oxford Poets and Exiled Writers (Heaventree Press, 2009) - features a Foreword by Shami Chakrabarti, and work by the following writers:

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.

It probably goes without saying that the ethos of the book and the project from which it grew remains as vital as ever. Bigots have been temporarily emboldened in their distorted views by the recent referendum on the European Union in the United Kingdom, as a result of elements in the 'Leave' campaign that stoked up division, anxiety and fear.
I hope that 'Translation' - my contribution to the project - speaks for itself.

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