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Uni to publish refugee poets
AN AMBITIOUS project to pair established poets with refugees and asylum seekers to produce an anthology has been launched by Oxford Brookes University’s poetry centre.
It is the first time the centre, which is working with Oxford-based charity Asylum Welcome, has undertaken such a project and will see 14 poets working with 14 refugees and asylum seekers.
The scheme will be launched with a workshop at the university on Saturday, November 29, and follows other efforts by the poetry centre to bring its work into the community, including an Oxfordshire schools poetry competition.
Poetry centre director Dr Rachel Buxton said: “The idea came from one of our colleagues in the English department who was previously at York University, where he was involved in a project working with refugees in drama.
“He thought it would be good to see how we could use the poetry centre to do a similar thing.”
Refugees and asylum seekers from as far afield as Eritrea, Afghanistan and Iraq are set to take part, and will be paired up with one of the poets at the workshop, run by writer Carole Angier.
Dr Buxton said: “We are keen to ensure it isn’t something seen as glorified tutoring. We want to produce really good quality literature and we will be able to do that because we have got some great poets associated with the project.”
The poetry centre has been given £10,000 in funding from the Arts Council and has also been supported with financial contributions from Asylum Welcome, Refugee Resource and the poetry centre itself.
To attract women to the project, childcare and creche facilities have been provided and bus fares to and from the workshop will be covered. It is free for those taking part.
Dr Buxton said: “We are really looking forward to see how workshops work in bringing the groups of people together.
“It is a great opportunity to see what sort of work can be produced from this collaboration.”
Poets involved include John Fuller, Anne Berkeley, Carmen Bugan, Afam Akeh, David Dabydeen, Sian Hughes, Chuma Nwokolo, Bernard O’Donoghue, Annemarie Austin, Greg Leadbetter, Maria Jastrzebska, Vahni Capildeo and Lucy Newlyn.
The volume of poetry, which could also include reportage and letters, will be published next year.