Last year Writing East Midlands launched a creative writing project with refugees and asylum seekers called Write Here: Sanctuary. The project took place in safe places in Leicester, Nottingham and Derby. I was lucky enough to be involved in this project and work with and get to know the refugees.
The creative writing workshops in Leicester, which were led by Jess Green, were one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. Everyone has their own opinion of refugees, and you can call mine romantic, but the truth is that for me they are angels who walked amongst us. We had great laughs during and after the workshops, and I daresay that I became their friend.
Anyway, Riding on Solomon’s Carpet And Other Tales from a Safe Place is the title of the work produced during these workshops across three cities of sanctuary in the East Midlands. Having a first-hand experience and seeing how so many of them could barely speak or write in English, the end result in this anthology is stunning.
Below are three extracts from the book, one from each city.
When You’re Alone
When you’re alone you dream and plan to slow music.
I used to be a clown when I was in my teens.
Sometimes I feel displaced and lost in a crowded room.
There is a flying house without a door behind the clouds.
Doris Ugiagbe, Nottingham
My first home was in Afghanistan
it was made of
soil, sand and wood.
It looked old but it was beautiful
everyone looked happy.
It was warm in winter
and it was cold in summer
our village looks old
and our villagers look very
A Safe Place
When I went back home fatigued after playing
children’s games, then I rolled out my roof bed,
and I’d look up at the stars and the infinite sky. I
was persistent and I watched it and I kept asking
myself where does all this space and distance end?
I would like to imagine this like the stories of a
thousand and one nights. I thought I was riding on
Solomon’s carpet and I’m going to find the end of
the world. I think it is the safest place in the world
where people are kind and friendly and there is no
war and destruction.
Abdul Rasul, Derby
About the reviewer
Alexandros Plasatis is an immigrant ethnographer who writes fiction in English, his second language. His work has appeared in UK and American anthologies and magazines. He is a volunteer at Leicester City of Sanctuary, where he helps find and develop new creative talent within the refugee and asylum seeker community. He lives in Leicester.