Earlier this month as a festival first we held a collective reading in the Byre Theatre. The book chosen for this event was Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge and the poems were read collectively as a gesture of support for refugees everywhere. The event was arranged with the support of the editors and publisher of the anthology, and we're happy now to feature a guest post by one of those editors, Emma Lee, who tells us more about the project.
Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge
"We welcomed the news that "Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge" was going to feature in a StAnza collective poetry reading event http://stanzapoetry.org/festival/events/collective-poetry-reading. The aim of the anthology wasn't just to raise funds for Medecins San Frontieres, Leicester City of Sanctuary and Nottingham Refuge Forum, but also to share stories and experiences. So the collective reading felt right.
"On 2 September 2015 I created a crowdfunder to cover printing and distribution costs so all sales proceeds would go directly to the charities. At the same time we put out a call for submissions. That call resulted in 204 poems being submitted from the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Iraq, Sweden, USA and Australia. These poems explored issues around being a refugee from what prompted people to leave their country, the journeys undertaken, issues faced on arrival in a new country, the traumas and difficulties faced and media reaction. Some poets wrote from experience, either their own or from older family members who had been refugees. Some poets touched on the relative privilege of being able to welcome refugees. All poems were written with sensitivity and without being gloomy, looking to the positives in acts of kindness and assistance.
"During October, Kathleen Bell, Siobhan Logan and I selected 101 poems which Pippa Hennessy began typesetting. By 1 December, Five Leaves had published the anthology which had a publication day launch at De Montfort University. This was followed by a second reading event during Leicester's Human Rights Arts and Film Festival. By the time we held a Nottingham launch at Five Leaves Bookshop during January 2016, "Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge," had gone into a second edition and was on target to raise £3000 for charity.
"This proved to be a beginning rather than an ending. "Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge" has been featured in the Morning Star and one of the poets had a phone interview on an Iraqi chat show. Contributors have read at Shindig poetry night, jointly organised by Nine Arches Press and Crystal Clear Creators, at a Leicester Migration Network event at Attenborough Arts in Leicester and at the States of Independence book fair at De Montfort University. A reading is planned at the Poetry Cafe in London at the invitation of Exiled Writers Ink at the beginning of August. Further events are being planned for Refugee Week (20 June) and Leicester's Everybody's Reading Festival in October."
“Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” is available from Five Leaves Bookshop.