ENGLISH PEN WORKSHOPS 2013
This was a 10-week programme funded by English PEN. This is the second programme following on from the national Big Writing in a Small World project which took place in
Fun English consisted of two hourly workshops per each Tuesday for 10 weeks. Fooad – “I am St Chad’s on Tuesday mornings, when I come to study with a smile on my face.’2012 and led to the publication of booklet of the poems and creative writing produced by participants on the programme.
Participants came from a variety of countries including Algeria, India, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Palestine and Sudan, with ages ranging from early 20s to 60s. (I’m guessing here)
Themes running throughout the workshops were those of ‘identity’ and ‘memories’, using hands as a recurring ‘motif’. They wrote about traditional stories passed down within the family, traditions, who they believe themselves to be, the food, colours and memories of their home countries, and much more.
We started with simple hand poetry – here are lines from two such poems:
‘I am the cold of England and the sun of Palestine’.
“I am the voice of Edit Piaf’.
We also wrote poems based on the senses and got lines like:
‘The sound of silence is like a snowy night, illuminated.
If I hold silence, I feel soft, magic tenderness’ (Adil)
Participants shared as much or as little as they wanted to in their writing and in group work. They were asked to explore writing in a creative manner, and in a very different way to their experience of writing in English to date. Initially, this was difficult for some participants who were used to a more functional approach to English writing. However, they threw themselves into the task and our Fun English Family was born. Participants allowed themselves to experiment with English, which led to the creation of some beautiful poetry and prose, full or imagery and heartfelt passion.
As one student said ‘we’re like a family’ and we are. St Chad’s Sanctuary gave us the space to become that family.
To mark the end of our recent FUN English class 2012 we had a Celebration Event and Book Launch
Our FUN English project was funded by the Near Neighbourhood Fund and enabled a g
roup of our students to go on a trip and produce both photographic
and written work, which was exhibited and performed on the day. Our Secret Millionaire Aria also attended!!!
The previous project was facilitated by English PEN which was founded in London in 1921 to promote literature as a means of greater understanding between cultures. Now it has centres in more than 100 countries. That project, funded by the European Commission, was called ‘Big Writing For A Small World’. We launched the book at this event as well.
On this page we will be featuring some of the writing which was produced in our ‘Fun English’ class.
I am my needs that make me feel happy
I am the English language that makes everything bright
I am my family that I miss
I am my sister that I need to see
I am loneliness that makes me think too much
I am all the people who make me feel better
I am the travel that will make my life open
I am who I am which is why I am in England
Ali Sisse March 2012
Shakespeare in his play ,King Richard the Third, wrote ;
‘ Go thou to sanctuary, and good thoughts possess thee !’
St. Chad’s Sanctuary
A smiling face came, opening the door for me
Another smiling face at the counter, offered me a cup of tea
The reception room was filled with amazing company
On the wall ‘ we were asylum seekers in an old century’.
A sense of peace and tranquillity thrilled me, I am carefree.
Sister Walsh, Emma , and others are devoted to charity.
Their sincere help and compassion is a shining moon
In the dark times of asylum seeker’s frustrations and anxiety .
March , 2012
The identity that embraces us all
Thou we differ in things that matter
The blue planet holds us like a mother
And the sun gives life to all
Humanity identifies this unique race
Scattered in nations all over the place
In peace, or fighting, settled or dispersed
Those suffering hope for an escape
Earth keeps us linked despite distances
Under the banner of Homo sapiens
We are all alike and live in communities
Though many are scarred from atrocities
The wonderful Sun sends its bright light
To the blue planet drapping it in warmth
Human beings of all nations have their share
Of the gifts and care of Sun and Earth
The Sun and Earth are just in giving
Their gifts are to all earth inhabitants
Thou greed and selfishness set them
In a race of Loosers and Winners
It is peace and human rights
That every human being seeks
Then let us hope and pray together
That our conflicts come to an end
It is a happy feeling to see
In the garden a flowering tree
The white small scented flowers
Makes the tree a snowy tower
The beauty of the garden moved the poet
He sung his song with robin in duet
But day after day the flowers wither
Like a homeless man in stormy winter
The summer feast of pigeon and robin
Is coming to an end, again and again
The seasons recur steadily since long
Homer’s triumphant hero, Odysseus song
The old nice lady
Passed away in late evening
Her only daughter is left alone
The daughter sat in her chair
Staring through the empty room
The memories of the past years
Hang around in mournful gloom.
Strange ghosts of coming days
Try to fill the silent soul
Who will fill the emptiness
Left after the cold death call
The coffin laid in the crematorium
Now the old lady is left alone
Who will be with her in the
Journey into the maze of the unknown
Now the old lady is gone
She will not have a sign of cold stone.
Mahmood Alnaimy – December 2010