A huge thank you to the speaker, Dr Alexandra Bulat, the keynote speaker, the panellists and the writers who read their work at the launch of Hear Our Stories on September 28th, and to everyone who attended. Here is a write-up of the event.
Teresa Norman said in her opening remarks that we are not living parallel lives (a reference to a recent comment by a senior politician), we are learning from each other and communicating with each other. This was brought to life at the launch. All panellists and speakers were invited to choose one entry from the Anthology. Dr Alex Bulat as the keynote speaker talked about how adversity had led her into politics and becoming the first Romanian County Councillor in England. She chose the poem British Punjabi by Goody as it is so confident about people with dual cultures. We learnt from Prof J D Portes that he was optimistic that all the different communities in the UK are living well together and would continue to do so. He chose Migrating to the UK by Sumia where she says living in the UK has enabled her to find her voice. Nazek Ramadan spoke about the importance of migrants being part of any debate on migration and chose a New Home by Loraine Mponela to show how much human connection and warmth matters. Adina Maglan spoke about her reasons for migration and what it had been like to live under a dictatorship in Romania. She chose Fly if you can by Damanyanthi Muthukumarange on the importance of respecting diversity. Sinéad Mangan-Mc Hale highlighted how much wonderful content there is at TogetherInTheUK. She spoke powerfully about the plight of migrant and unaccompanied children, She chose My Eritrea by Daniel Habte on the perilous journey from Eritrea that he took at as 14 year old.
The actor Sadiqa Esmail read In Britain by Inna Martinova, a poem about leaving Ukraine to come to the UK and The Channel by Kisa, a poem about why people risk their lives crossing the Channel. Sadiqa beautifully conveyed all the strong emotion in both poems.
We heard a wonderful selection of pieces in Hear Our Stories read by some of the authors. Sonja Morgenstern read her humorous story about a romance in London and the impact of Brexit on her, Girl Like Me, Farisai Dwemza read her provocative and clever essay An Immigrant In So Many Words. Loraine Msai Mponela read I Own Nothing, showing the pain of being in limbo as an asylum seeker. Althia Anson-Barnett read Fighting with my conscience on the dilemmas of migration and sometimes having to leave your family behind in order to be able to support them. Erica Pham read her poem Growing up Different to My Mum’ full of admiration for her Mum but also of the dilemmas of being a second-generation migrant. Goody read her beautiful and assertive poem on the importance of her Punjabi culture, British Punjabil Finally, Natalie Gregory read her beautiful essay on how much information, love and knowledge is there is in A Bowl of Soup.
A particularly moving moment was Sophie Lloyd-Owen telling everyone there how much the Anthology had meant to Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes,
TogetherintheUK is very grateful to the Romanian Cultural Centre for hosting the book launch.
Highlighted here are just some of the brilliant entries in the anthology. There are many more and congratulations to everyone published in Hear Our Stories.
If you would like to read more, you can buy the book here: Hear Our Stories: An Anthology of Writings on Migration (victorinapress.com)
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