Poetry can be a powerful way to explore identity, belonging, movement, and one’s environment. Nowhere is that more pertinent than in the work of writers most affected by migration and the refugee experience. Azfa Awad, Rukiya Khatun, and Hassan Bamyani are exciting local voices in the poetry world who are themselves from refugee and immigrant backgrounds, whose poetry explores and interrogates these ideas with precision and power. Alan Buckley is a local poet who works closely with refugees at Oxfordshire charity, Refugee Resource, and James Attlee works closelyw ith Hassan Bamyani to create English versions of his Persian poems. Come hear them share their work and read their poetry at this unique event.
50% of all our profits from the event will go to Asylum Welcome‘s hardship fund which supports young people and adults who are destitute in Oxford due to their immigration status.
Azfa Awad is an award winning page and performance poet who won the Oxford Tower Poetry competiton in 2013 for her poem ‘Origins’ and became the first Oxford Youth Ambassador for Poetry. Her role involved sharing her love for poetry with the young people of Oxford through writing workshops, and collaborating with composers at Oxford University to write an aria for oper. She was also part of ‘Map of Me,’ a two-woman performance poetry show with Rosemary Harris that explored the relationship between a young female refugee and an immigration officer.
Rukiya Khatun’s poetry explores her childhood in Bangladesh and her journey to England when she was six. She is now 22 and a student in London, and has had her poetry included in anthologies and compilations, some of which can be found here and here.
Hassan Bamyani is from the Hazara community in Afghanistan, a persecuted Shia minority. He worked as a teacher in Afghanistan, teaching both boys and girls and was also active as a poet. After escaping the Taliban, he came to Britain where he now lives with his wife and son. Earlier this year, his family faced deportation back to an extremely unstable situation in Afghanistan. A community campaign worked to pressure the Home Office to reverse their decision, and the case was eventually thrown out after several members of the Oxford community campaigned to demonstrate what valued members of the community the family are. Much of this can be attributed to the power of Hassan’s poetry to communicate and connect with people. His writing explores his experiences, written in Dari, his dialect of Persian.
James Attlee is a writer, journalist and musician living in the UK. His books include Guernica: Painting the End of the World (2017), Station to Station, (2015) shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award, Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight (2011) and Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey (2009). His digital fiction The Cartographer’s Confession won the New Media Writing Award 2017. His journalism has appeared in publications including The Independent, Frieze magazine, Tate Etc and the London Review of Books. He is a close friend of Hassan Bamyani’s and works with him to create English versions of his poetry.
Alan Buckley is from Merseyside, and now lives in Oxford. His most recent publication is the pamphlet The Long Haul (HappenStance, 2016). He was highly commended in the 2017 Forward Prizes. He is a poetry editor at Ignition Press, and a school writer-in-residence with First Story. He also works as a psychotherapist for local charity Refugee Resource.
Music will also be provided by the wonderful local songwriter, Samantha Twigg Johnson.
Samantha Twigg Johnson sings songs of love, fury, apocalypse, and wine-soaked compromise. As a performer, she gained her sea-legs on Chicago’s vibrant open mic scene in the 2000s. She has since played in a variety of bright stages and dark corners, and now lives in Oxford. In addition to the flamenco guitar, she plays the Puerto Rican cuatro and the cajón. She is currently working on a new record, ”Flights and Landings”.
Tickets are £7 and are available in advance here