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BRAVE NEW

VOICES
A city imagined

Writing by young people from around


the world, living in London

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Brave New Voices copyright English PEN, 2016
The moral right of the authors has been asserted.
The views expressed in this book are those of the individual authors, and do not
necessarily represent the opinions of the editors, publishers or English PEN.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no
part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval
system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior permission of both the
copyright owner and the publisher of the book.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Printed and bound in Great Britain by Smith & Watts Print
Ipswich Road
Colchester
Essex CO4 0AD
www.smithwattsprint.co.uk
Design and illustrations by Brett Evans Biedscheid,
www.statetostate.co.uk
ISBN No. 978-0-9931705-9-1
www.englishpen.org

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Introductions LOUISE SWAN, EMMA GARDINER, LUCY ELGOOD AND FRANCESCA VALERIO
Brave New Voices OLA OLOLADE
A City Imagined FRANCESCA OJEFUA Hot Air Balloon FRANCESCA OJEFUA
Untitled ALI ABDELAHMED EL AMIN
Hold On OLA OLOLADE A Dream SAMANTHA WATSON Brixton SAMANTHA WATSON
Italy/Sudan FRANCESCA VALERIO AND HASSAN BASHIR All About Me NISHTA MAUREE
London is... SANDRA MBALA, ANTENEH WORQW AND FERDOUS
I Come From FFION EVANS AND THIRUKKUMARAN JEYASEELA City GRACIE WANJA
Black Shoes FERDOUS
Come to Where Im From EMMANUEL GASHAIJA, NISHTA MAUREE AND REBEKAH MURRELL
The Ring EMAN GOMBOS
As a Human FATEMA GANNET Guess Who I Am? THIRUKKUMARAN JEYASEELAN
My Life of Cheeseburgers ANTENEH WORQW AND AJAY SINGH THAKURI
TomorrowPlantain! SANDRA MBALA
In the Beginning REBECCA NAKIRIJJA I Remember SANDRA MBALA Never Give Up SAMIRA BEATRIZ FIDELIS
Today FRANCESCA OJEFUA The Museum of Childhood JODEANN HENRY
I Speak OLA OLOLADE Weight in Gold ANONYMOUS
Brave New Voices AVAES MOHAMMAD Diamond Light NADA DHADAL Tiger ADRIAN SHETA
Life: Loathing and Love AJAY SINGH THAKURI
My Old School Uniform (a story of two friends beginning with a shirt) USMAN ALI
My Language KUMARI TARAPATLA
My Lovely Grandmother NERMEN AL HAWAMDEH Morning Song THIRUKKUMARAN JEYASEELAN
I Speak (Eu Falo) SAMIRA BEATRIZ FIDELIS, TRANSLATED BY CONSTANCE FORREST
We Come From Nowhere PEGAH KERMANI AND GAIA DI BERNARDINI
Just An Idea! MARGARET ADEWUYI Letter to the Future AJAY SINGH THAKURI
Hear My Voice MARVIN JACKSON
The Jacket that Teaches Me Kindness ANTENEH WORQW
Future, World HASSAN BASHIR Long Ago MARGARET ADEWUYI
The Black Velvet Scarf From My Mum SANDRA MBALA
I Speak KUMARI TARAPATLA Apple Sunrise PEGAH KERMANI
A Special Relationship SARAH ARDIZZONE
The Love Feeling EMAN GONBOS You, boss ELAF ALWADI
One Long Journey Down the School Corridor (squeak squeak squeak) SARVANGA REGMI
Future INAS EL-RACHID
Becoming Brave NISHTA MAUREE Pug PEGAH KERMANI
The Leaflets FERDOUS
The Story of Monster, an epic journey from ignorance to acceptance

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CAPITAL CITY ACADEMY/SALUSBURY WORLD

41 The Story of Robot CAPITAL CITY ACADEMY/SALUSBURY WORLD My First Light Up Shoes NOMAN HABIBI
42 The Jacket that Symbolises Love JHAZMINE NICOLE SUMABAT

Letter to the Future SANDRA MBALA Siblings SEMHAR TEKLY


The Sky Watches Over Us PARASTOO NESHATDOUST
The Ankle Swingers MARCIA MIMOSO My Favourite Possession FRANCESCA OJEFUA
Everlast USMAN ALI
The Cloud EMMANUEL GASHAIJA
All About My Hijab HEBATULLAH KOUNBUS
My Language OLA OLOLADE Waiting NISHTA MAUREE
In 5 Years Time KYREESHA OAKLEY My Dream SAJEDA ALDAHI
My Trainers JHAZMINE NICOLE SUMABAT
Frock (udupp) NASEEHA FATHIMAH
Welcome to the (Calais) Jungle OLUMIDE POPOOLA
Safe Journey FRANCESCA OJEFUA
The Sky is Watching Praxis GRACIE WANJA
Happy Feet JHONATAN DA SILVA RIBEIRO CAJAIBA Thoughts about Brave New Voices SIMON MOLE
I Write MARVIN JACKSON
Even When (Mesmo Quando) SAMIRA BEATRIZ FIDELIS Brave New Voices KUMARI TARAPATLA

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

This anthology, Brave New Voices: A City Imagined features writing by young people from all over the
world who have taken part in the first year of Brave New Voices. This is a three-year creative writing
project in which young refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, living in Greater London, have worked
together in writing groups to create poems and stories sparkling with imagination, humour and beauty.
Within these pages youll find memories of home towns and cities: the shouts of market traders,
evenings filled with the scent of roasting meat and fresh onions, the competing perfumes worn by
teenagers. There are letters to the future full of hope, trepidation and optimistic apple sunrises, and
invitations to come to where Im from where there is the silence of ancestors and twisted vines fight
dusty brick in dappled half light. There are observations, too, about London, their new home city:
the sweet smell of apple-shisha smoke on Edgware Road, guitar-playing buskers, bad reggae and
wicked food sold on the streets of Brixton. There are common threads of inspiration woven from
everyday items such as pieces of jewellery and clothes redolent with love: a black velvet scarf from
a mother, ankle swinging trousers that evoke treasured times with a father at church, a jacket which
teaches kindness and a much-loved hijab which, like the green grass, is always there.
I would like to thank all the young people whove taken part in the first year of Brave New Voices for
their hard work and the wonderful writing theyve created in English, inspired by the richness of the
other languages they speak.
Six brilliant writers have worked on the project so far, creating inspiring learning programmes
with great commitment, flair and skill: BBC broadcaster, novelist and non-fiction writer, Bidisha;
spoken-word poet, educator and inaugural Poet Laureate for Brent, Simon Mole; artist-activist and
performance poet Zena Edwards; poet and Founder of Full Circle Projects, Femi Martin; playwright, Sufi
poet and oral historian Avaes Mohammad and writer and co-founder of Wigan Pier Workshops, Kat Lewis.
Thanks also go to the guest writers and translators: novelist, journalist and screenwriter, Faza Gune
(Just Like Tomorrow, Dreams from the Endz, Men Dont Cry); award-winning translator and founder of
the Translators in Schools programme, Sarah Ardizzone; playwright, Zodwa Nyoni (Nine Lives, Come
to Where Im From); novelist and youngest ever author signed to Faber and Faber, Chibundu Onuzo
(The Spider Kings Daughter), and translator-educator, Stacie Allan. Each guest offered an international
perspective on a different style of writing, shared insights into a writers life in other countries and
approached the idea of translation from their own unique perspective.
English PEN is indebted to the staff from the partner organisations which hosted, and ensured
the success of the creative writing workshops: Migrants Organise in Ladbroke Grove, Praxis
Community Projects in Bethnal Green, Salusbury World and the English department at Capital City
Academy in Willesden, especially Joe Harris.
A special thank you goes to Rebekah Murrell, English PEN Programmes Co-ordinator who has
worked closely with everyone involved with the project, bringing energy and ideas to further
develop Brave New Voices.
Brave New Voices is funded by the Limbourne Trust, John Lyons Charity and the AB Charitable Trust;
thanks to their generous and timely support the voices of young people from around the world are
being expressed and heard.
LOUISE SWAN
Head of Programmes
English PEN

BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

At Praxis we believe that people are made up of more than just the challenges they face in life.
Brave New Voices has given our young people the means to unearth a creativity that has helped them
grow beyond the everyday struggles they face.
Through finding a unique, confident voice these young talents have set out on a journey to create
new positive identities for themselves, away from those that are imposed on them by a hostile world.
Not only refugee but writer too and anything else they choose to become.
EMMA GARDINER
Group Work Co-ordinator
Praxis Community Projects

Working with English PEN, Simon and Avaes has been above all else great fun! We played games,
we talked, we wrote and the students confidence and fluency grew each week. The writers and Bekah
helped create an environment in which this warm and inclusive group of students were willing to be
bold and adventurous with their ideas and writing. The students were enthralled by Faza Gune
(the French writer who visited). They enjoyed her writing but even more they enjoyed her story
of how she became a writer.
We (Salusbury World) are so pleased to have been involved in such an energetic and exciting project.
LUCY ELGOOD
Project Manager at Capital City Academy
Salusbury World

Working in partnership with English PEN has been a very positive adventure for the youth group at
Migrants Organise. The workshops have been an incredible opportunity for young asylum seekers
and refugees to discover the power of voicing their dreams, worries, expectations and successes both
in their native languages and in English. Unexpected poems came from sharing experiences, mixing
languages and stories, creating new harmonies. All the participants cannot wait to pick up their pens
and write again soon.
FRANCESCA VALERIO
Mentoring and Volunteering Director
Migrants Organise

An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

Brave New Voices


OLA OLOLADE
Big and brash, youre bold as a bear
Rhythmic and raspy, youre music to my ears
Act on instinct, you fight my battles
Valiant efforts, yet you never act entitled
Extraordinary strength, a fluffy interior!
Novel and exciting, youre like a newly crowned emperor
Elusive and rare, youre a great big diamond
Wondrous and worthy, standing tall as a pylon.
Vaguely audible, loud enough to hear.
On every corner, you fight the cruel smears
Ill tell you now that it means a lot.
Constant battles, you fight on every front.
Everything you do, your never-ending toils,
Shows me how to find my own voice.

An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

A City Imagined
FRANCESCA OJEFUA
Festac town, inhabited by many people of different cultures. Rows of houses on one side, blocks of
flats on the other and an air of privilege and superiority from the occupants of the houses towards
those who occupy the flats.
I live in one of the blocks of flats; there are 16 families in the block. Different smells permeate the air:
traditional meals being cooked, clothes hung out to dry, the sewer filled and leaking, puddles filled
with mud, grass and the competing perfumes worn by teenagers. The barbecue stand is behind the
block, so evenings are filled with the scent of roasting meat and fresh onions.
Aboju market is further down the road and is overwhelmed by the smell of raw fish and chicken blood.
Its nice to hear random voices shouting over one another, advertising their wares, sellers and buyers
haggling over prices.

Hot Air Balloon


FRANCESCA OJEFUA
Alan Whickers had created a buzz in town. He claimed to have invented a balloon that could lift
people into the sky. People thought he was crazy to think he could achieve such a feat. Alan was
determined to prove them wrong and so invited them to view his masterpiece in two days time at the
corn fields.
Some shook it off as just another one of his half-baked ideas. Still, they gathered to see Alan make a
fool of himself. In the middle of the fields a large, round object stood tall. It was held down by some
ropes and a basket. Alan asked for some volunteers but none stepped forward, so he stepped in
himself, lit the fire and to everyones shock the balloon went up in the air.
Alan let it hover for a few minutes before asking the men who were holding the ropes tied to the
balloon to pull it down. As soon as he touched ground, he was swamped by the townspeople and
today, Alan Whickers who was laughed at for his silly ideas is the most famous person ever to be born
out of that town.

BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

Untitled
ALI ABDELAHMED EL AMIN,
TRANSLATED BY LYDIA HOLLY BLUE GARRETT
Have mercy on my heart Suhair that doesnt forget you
Allow me a glimpse of you or your shadow would you?
Your pride is so strong within you
Your morning and evening live in my heart
Oh king, have mercy on me
Suhair have mercy on my heart that doesnt forget you
Spirit of the body meet my love
I wish that the moon could guide the night to celebrate the motherland
Everyone in love is kept awake by love
Spirit of the body meet my love
Do good even when it is not worthy
For no good is ever not worthy

An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

Hold On
OLA OLOLADE
Hold on to faith
Even if it feels impossible.
Its hard
You may feel like youre on the edge
And your patience is hanging by a thread.
When faith is all youve got
And all hope in the world seems lost.
Hold on to your faith, dear folks
It will lead you to happiness untold
Cos faith and patience are brothers, you see
And with your dreams they play hide and seek
When your faith is hanging by a wish
Some patience will lead you to your dreams.

A Dream
SAMANTHA WATSON
I dream Im getting married on Saturday.
I am looking at my wedding dress
And my husband gives me a fish.
Married means death,
Fish means pregnancy.

Brixton
SAMANTHA WATSON
I love the area because its a cultural area.
You dont miss anything back home, its like a Little Jamaica.
You always see people there you know
And you get everything you want.
The atmospheres lovely: music and vibes,
Some bad reggae music, wicked food,
Jerk pork and chicken patties.
The house prices there its very expensive,
But its my little home.

BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

Italy/Sudan
FRANCESCA VALERIO AND HASSAN BASHIR
We came from a place near the river,
Everything is green, brown and bright,
We came from a land of burning sun
Where people have dry skin and live their lives outside
We come from a busy place
Where cars, old lorries and rusty bikes,
Travel in no order
We come from a country of loud people:
People shouting, crying tears
Of sadness, laughing for a funny joke.
We come from faraway places
Where people drink coffee,
Smoke, and meet in the port to
Talk through life.

All About Me
NISHTA MAUREE
Ingredients
100g of beauty
50g of happiness
A teaspoon of intelligence
3 tbsp of brown sugar
Dont go easy on the madness
Take brown sugar caramel its the beauty of life
Then add a teaspoon of intelligence
Leave to chill for a few hours
Warm up the box of love
Make it all cosy, just like soft hugs
Mix in some cuteness
Then stir the madness in.
Bake at 250 for 20 impatient minutes.
Then serve the sweetness
To every sad or happy face.

An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

London is...
SANDRA MBALA, ANTENEH WORQW
AND FERDOUS
London. Every hour is rush hour.
Sirens, horns. The beep of the barrier
when your oyster card is empty
The sweet smell of Apple shisha smoke
on Edgware Road. Two for a pound!
Two for a pound! Bowls of fresh fruit for sale
at the market. Tourists take photos of the tube sign
at Camden. Street food stalls everywhere.
London is jeans torn on knees.
Some people can smell perfume
and some can smell farts.
A busker plays guitar, as traffic whooshes by
On a busy bus, snatches of English
Ebakan Engenas Grove station OK?
An empty road at night,
white street light on black tarmac
And then a slice of pub sound as the door swings open
Loud talk, clinking glasses, music, nothing.
The next morning, bus 109 Brixton to Croydon.
Arrghh! Not again! A big traffic jam
caused by construction.
Here, the work is never finished. Finally,
at Croydon station. A very obvious sign:
Home Office this way. A huge new grey building.
A long line of people waiting outside.
Refugees suffer from a lack of opportunity.
You get papers, or you dont get papers.
You can either survive or die.

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

I come from
FFION EVANS AND THIRUKKUMARAN JEYASEELAN
Lwyn dod or mynyddau hardd (I come from the beautiful mountains)
(I come from the fresh smell of jasmine)
Ble maer adar yn hedfan, ar mr yn glir (where the birds fly and the sea is clear)
(I come from fleshy white coconut and aromatic oil)
Swimming to get me after a day at school, yn chwarae, chwarae (Im playing, playing)
(I come from places, things, even my soul/mum, left behind)
Ar ein beic lawr y stryd Panteg, yr harbw Honey ice cream please
(On our bike down Panteg Road, at the Harbour)
, , searching for justice.
(I came from, not for things, searching for justice)
Cyfiawnder yn ein tir. Yn y mr mar taith am rhyddid
(Justice in our soil. To the sea we look for freedom)
Sri Lanka
Rwyn dod o Welsh (Wales) Cymru (I come from Wales)
We come from Sri Lanka, Wales
LONDON

City
GRACIE WANJA
As me and my friend walked down the city of Glasgow, I was hit by a cool breeze, having left the
hot, humid weather of East London. The tall, old, defined buildings amazed me and the men in skirts
amused me. It was cool and relaxed as we walked down the sidewalks. The shops were very different
and seemed quite expensive and posh. Far down we came across a castle that seemed old but
beautifully sculpted with stone and solid Scottish guards with kilts on.

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

Black Shoes
FERDOUS
I am 14 (around 2009 I think)
A city called Shiraz in Iran
I work in a small shop
Repairing shoes and bags
A rich gentleman comes in with stylish black shoes
On one of them, the stitching which fixes the sole to the shoe has come off
And he told me I have to fix this shoe
And when I see the shoes
I like them so much
I can tell they are very costly
And so because I like to be funny
Straight away I ask him:
Can you give the shoes to me?
He smiles and tells me he cant
Because they are so expensive
I say
OK, no problem I fix it
But I ask him from where does he buy them
Because I would like to get some too
He says they were a gift, someone made them for him
Again
OK, no problem
but because we are joking
when I fix the shoes I put the needle through my middle finger
and this is a big needle, longer than the finger it goes through
there is a lot of blood and it goes all over the shoes
and these are shoes you cannot wash
Ugh! he says
What happened?
I show him the needle in my finger
he says You are very lucky
What?
You can have the shoes
And I am very happy as well
Even though my finger hurts
I still have these shoes now ten years later
And both shoes will fit both your feet
And they make a tap tap tap when you walk
And because I cleaned them so well
You cannot see the blood.

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

Come to Where
Im From
EMMANUEL GASHAIJA, NISHTA MAUREE
AND REBEKAH MURRELL
Come to where Im from.
Mauritius, heaven they call it
Where the sky is bright blue
And the sun a yellow banana
Come to where Im from.
Roots, a mixture of emotions
The beauty of my origin
The silence of my ancestors
Come to where Im from.
There, in the dappled halflight
Twisted vine fights dusty brick
I think you will like it.

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The Ring
EMAN GOMBOS
My favourite thing is my ring.
It is from my mum.
She was in Egypt
And she bring it to me
in England. She said
Leave it on your hand
and if I go to Egypt again
you can remember me
And I did.
I left it on my hand and
I went everywhere
with my ring. To River Thames
and to houses of parliament.
I went to the garden with my sister.
I love my ring and I cannot lose it.
It is a gold ring, a nice ring.
I tell my sister about my ring.
I have ring, gold ring, nice ring
And I tell her again
Gold! Gold! Gold!
I dont care! I dont care!
But again I tell my sister
About my ring and about
Gold! Gold! Gold!
I dont care! I dont care!
Then to now
This is life
My ring.

BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

As a Human
FATEMA GANNET
I speak as a human
Who doesnt need to identify
Whos man or whos woman
I speak as a human
Who doesnt need to identify
Whos black or white
I speak as a human
Who doesnt need to identify
Whos rich or poor
I speak as a human
Who doesnt need to identify
Whos resident or migrant
I speak as a human
Who doesnt need to identify
Which place you are from or
Which country you are resident in
I speak as a human
We are all human beings, and
We are all residents in the world

Guess who
I am?
THIRUKKUMARAN
JEYASEELAN
Eight hands and four legs
Slender, browny, tall body
Always Im in peace and quiet
When its a busy time, cant hear my voice,
But I move like a Jagger
Mmmm smell always sweaty
Sometimes can bring the aroma of
Dolce Gabanna, Tom Ford and
Amazing Arab Scents
You know I am tough cause I have to be strong
For others
Oh seems like, Ive got a permanent place to
Stay, watch and listen to human activities
Please: I love to be here
(coat stand)

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

My Life of
Cheeseburgers
ANTENEH WORQW AND AJAY SINGH THAKURI
My life of cheeseburgers
Tomatoes and lettuce mixed like easy and hard
Nobody knows about tomorrow
All I crave today is my cheeseburger
You cant even guarantee about today
So enjoy the cheeseburger and the gherkins
My life is like someone stabbing on my back with a knife
See how cheeseburger is better?
My life is so complicated
Cheeseburger isnt, so I am loving it

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

Tomorrow
Plantain!
SANDRA MBALA
First I must head to the super market, where I will find them fresh and yellow
I cant wait to take it home!

I will kindly slice it into thin and long pieces


then add a pinch of salt.
Heat the oil in a pan, fry the plantain
until it turns golden and crisp.

My alarm will only go off at 12 noon because its Sunday.


Im planning on having the plantain as my Sunday brunch,
Im not expecting any visitors,
so I guess I will enjoy it on my own.
Sweet plantain: I will make you tomorrow!

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

In the Beginning
REBECCA NAKIRIJJA
When I was a young girl I didnt have a father
Because Id never seen him.
I was thirteen when he came to our house.
I asked, Who are you?
He answered, Im your father.
I answered, I dont have a father.
When my mum came back from work I asked,
Who is this man?
She said, He is your father.

I Remember
SANDRA MBALA
I remember when we first met. The sun rising above us, bird sound and calm. We almost thought we
were in paradise: How can it not be paradise?
I remember us sunbathing in the heart of the ocean because we remember how much peace feels like.
Whatever the trouble and brutality of life: this is us.
This is what we should be: love for love, live for life.
Imageons nous dans lamour, mon amour Noublie jamais te pas oublier, mais jamais oublie.
Never forget to remember.

Never Give Up
SAMIRA BEATRIZ FIDELIS
Even if times are hard
Never give up dreaming
To have faith is as easy and as important
As never giving up to reach your dreams
There are obstacles to be overcome
And dreams to be achieved.

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

Today
FRANCESCA OJEFUA
Me: Im pregnant.
Him: How did you get pregnant?
Me: Do you want me to tell you about the birds and the bees?
Him: I dont know how you can get pregnant when Ive been careful.
Me: Do you want me to remind you of the times you didnt use contraceptives?
Him: Well, Im not ready for a baby.
Me: Neither am I, but its coming and there is nothing I can do to prevent it.
Him: Well, you have to choose. You leave the baby and come with me or else youre on your own.
Me: If youre asking for a termination, I cant do it, Im sorry.
Him: In that case, you have to leave my house. You cant force a baby on me.
Today, Im still here, even though you dont care.
Im still living, even though you wish I werent breathing.
Im standing tall, even though you wish I fall.
You didnt want it this way,
But Im better, wiser, stronger, today.

The Museum of Childhood


JODEANN HENRY
An ancient baby cot, beautifully designed
With chains and the rails in gold and white metal
Gives me an idea of how fancy life used to be.
I used to play with skipping ropes, a very beloved game.
A dolly house with old things taken from the home.
Many of our games were physical.
Bat and ball, stone and old pots,
Leaves as money.

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

I Speak
OLA OLOLADE
I speak as a man
In love with nature
Makes no difference to me
Dolphins or vultures
I speak as a man
With lots of questions
Looking for answers
Yet mired in more confusions

Weight in Gold
ANONYMOUS

I speak as a man
In serious discomfort
The pain is my master
The drugs my liberator
I speak as a man
Creaking at the seams
Pull yourself together!
A next man screams
Im trying to speak, I say to him
What good is speaking,
When I havent got a voice

Like the shadow that I am


You know me well
I live near you
But our lives are different.
Im undocumented, you see
Hopeless and depressed
My life is chaotic
And I live it in fear.
I feel like I belong to this place
But youre quick to tell me thats not the case.
I am here, your neighbour
Your colleague
Your waiter at the restaurant
Your son and I were classmates
Did you notice?
Same story, wherever I go
Like the shadow that I am
I fade to black
Crushed hopes and stifled dreams
A lifetime of uncertainty
The story of many like me
Like pet parakeets that never flew
So many never know how high they could soar
And if dreams were worth their weight in gold
And resilience and courage cashed like cheques
Then young migrants would be a class of their own.

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

Brave New Voices


AVAES MOHAMMAD
Poet, playwright and performer Avaes Mohammad worked with new writers
at Salusbury World/Capital City Academy in Summer 2016.
We inhabit languages like moulds that cocoon our being. Encased within them, they dictate
everything from the amount of breath we take to the straightness of our gait. The lightness that
long vowels afford us, the staccato stresses of consonants, each manifest themselves upon our very
form. Not only do languages therefore govern how we sound, but also how we look and behave.
Even if taken for granted, this is known most clearly to those of us who navigate daily between
multiple languages and is felt most clearly by those just beginning to inhabit new ones.
When home countries and defining landscapes are left behind ones original language remains the
only teller of original self. Working therefore with these brave and inspiring young people stood at
the very fulcrum between new and old versions of themselves, I wanted to encourage a wholeness
allowing them to speak and be seen as authentically as possible.
The poems they have created serve as simultaneous demonstrators of an original strength and
confidence preserved in their original languages, as well as a fragility, insecurity and adventure
that resonates through their new one. All of which, for now at least, is them.

Diamond Light
NADA DHADAL
My necklace is a present from an amazing person
It makes me happy and sad
Happy because it has a diamond, bright and strong
Sad because the person who gave it to me is dead
I never wear it but I keep it in a small box
A special place

Tiger
ADRIAN SHETA
My onesie is yellow
With stripes and a hood with ears
It smells like shampoo
It makes me think of a time when I punched someone
Because he nearly ripped it
If it could talk it would say, in a high pitched voice,
Wear me, I know you want to
And it would work

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

Life: Loathing and Love


AJAY SINGH THAKURI
He was born in a society where children without parents had no rights
Where children without parents had to sleep by the street lights
Where a child gets exploited in daylight
Instead of a milk bottle, he had a plastic bag with detritus
Only 6 years old, wanting to refuse
But nowhere to go
No one to hold.
In his mind, this wasnt the life he was destined to live
He just wanted love and to be cared for
Like other children
He used to wonder...
What is it like to have a family?
Is it like support, care, joy, sorrows, sharing with each other?
OR
Is it like when you are dressed up for school by your mother?
OR
Fighting for video games with your brother?
OR
Is it when your Dad supports you against another?
OR
None of these, but to have some friend here in the gutter
Fighting to survive but protective of each other...

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

Instead of love and care, unclarity, confusion, hatred surrounded me


People are quick to blame others religions
He had no choice than to agree
Our selfish ways have taken us to the graves.
But if you make it to heaven before me...
Please tell my friends that I am fine now and out from the streets...
And ultimately, DRUG wasnt the treat... But shit! That killed YOU!
I am fortunate
Otherwise I could have been a drug addict or some kind of criminal,
I could have been dead
Instead, I am still alive...
See! Taking drugs was a huge mistake (I dont blame you friends)
Not into religion but I believe GOD is ONE and GOD is GREAT
I am blessed to testify because I know how hatred looks...
It looks like getting ignored by a whole country... not knowing your own identity... and children thrown
in the streets to die.
And I know how hatred looks...
Victim of exploitation and tortured even in bright daylight.
And I know how hatred looks...
Sleeping in the streets, EMPTY STOMACH on cold freezing nights.
And I know what hatred looks like
BUT today that defeats the purpose.
Looking at all of you, I KNOW what LOVE looks like...
It looks like... A night bright with full moonlight!
And I know what LOVE looks like...
Our extensive handshakes that hold us together tight.
I know what LOVE looks like...
YOU, I, US together as a family.
And now, I know thats what a family looks like...
And I know what love looks like
WE thats what our love looks like.

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

My Old School Uniform


(a story of two friends
beginning with a shirt)
USMAN ALI
We wear the same shirt and same trousers,
paper in our collars.
My friends name is Aslam
He likes to write with Kalam (pen).
We like to share our food and pens.
We wear the same shirt and same trousers,
paper in our collars.
I met him in school
And after exactly two and a half weeks
we became best friends.
We are like brothers.
We wear the same shirt and same trousers,
Paper in our collars.
And we care for each other.
He is very honest and kind.
He trusts me and I trust him.
We wear the same shirt and same trousers,
Paper in our collars.

My Language
KUMARI TARAPATLA
My language has told me
Respect other languages
My language has told me
Its really hard to learn, but
You have to love the way you speak
My language has told me
Learn the words heartfully
My language has told me
Understand people through language

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

My Lovely Grandmother
NERMEN AL HAWAMDEH
I dont like
Anyone to
talk with me.
I like to listen
To myself I
Know the song
In my country I sleep next to my grandmother
I London now I sleep by myself in the bed
I am angry because I leave my grandmother to herself with the war
My dreams are strong
I love my dreams
In my dreams I see my grandmother in London
She hugs me and my sisters so much
When she came to London, everyday
My grandmother said to me come
Sleep next to me
I will tell you a story about you when you were born
My grandmother she comes to
my dreams and sings about my country
When I listen to the song I cry

Morning Song
THIRUKKUMARAN JEYASEELAN
Vaanam Vasapadumae
If you stretch your wings
With your pure heart and positive thoughts
Anything could be possible
Lets bring the dreams into alive
Lets dance begin
Lets sing begin

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

I Speak (Eu Falo)


SAMIRA BEATRIZ FIDELIS,
TRANSLATED BY CONSTANCE FORREST
Eu falo como uma pessoa
Que gosta de se relacionar com as pessoas.
Eu falo que prefiro estar com elas
pessoalmente do
Que atravs das rede sociais.
Eu falo tambm como uma pessoa
Que no gosta ao sistema egosta e antissocial
dos dias atuais.
Falo como uma pessoa
Que gosta de se relacionar e fazer
novos amigos!

I speak as a person
Who likes to relate to people.
I say that Id rather be with them
personally
Than through social networks.
I also speak as a person
Who does not like the selfish and
anti-social system of today.
I speak as a person
Who likes to relate and make new friends!

Just An Idea!
MARGARET ADEWUYI
I woke up one morning with heavy head and body pain. I knew I didnt go out to a club or drinking
so I wondered: why the hangover? But its not only when youve been drunk with drink that you get
hangover. You can also be drunk with worries, troubles, even ideas, clustered together looking for a
way to untangle and to solve the misery puzzles.
If only I could have just an IDEA of how to was what came out of my out that morning when Im still
struggling to get out of my bed.
Thats it! I jumped out of my bed, my head lighting up and I picked my pen and paper and started
writing. And I wrote all I need is just an idea.
Growing up as a child, our teachers always ask us what would you like to become in life? As a child
I was clueless, dont really know what I wanted, and my response was when the time comes I will
know. Speaking of which is the truth, as time passed by I began to discover a lot of things about
myself, especially the way life has been hard on me, My upbringing wasnt that rosy for a girl-child,
looking back I am glad for the way I was brought up and for certain things that happened in my life
because they are the reason for this book, the reason for this great idea.
One thing I never thought I will be is a writer, but my experience in life is too important to conceal it.
I am happy to pen down every bit of it who knows who it might help. Among the things I discovered
that I am able to do as a career, is singing, acting, and from what Ive been through in life, I would like
to be a counsellor, an ambassador, helping people; all that I need is just an idea!

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

We Come From Nowhere


PEGAH KERMANI AND GAIA DI BERNARDINI
We come from a smell of rain
We come from a city of happy and sad days
We come from a mutual line of life
We come from different countries yet we live the same
We have different languages yet we speak the same
Our voices mix together in a crowded city as if they were the same
We are from nowhere but we belong to where we live

Hear My Voice
MARVIN JACKSON
Brave as a knight going into battle
Rust on my sword, but that does not stop me from slaying a man or his cattle
Anticipation rushes over my body as I get closer to the battlefield
Verily I say to my enemies, be very afraid

and tell your wives to start grieving because

I will not yield
Enlighten your minds with my words of horror

then pierce your hearts like lightening strike through clouds
Never underestimate my power, you fools
Everyday I wake up, I watch the sun rise

Not thinking how beautiful it is
but thinking about the next challenge life throws at me
and how I will demolish whatever it is
Whichever man or beast comes my way shall surely be put to death
Victorious! Hahaha, I shall always be in all my battles
Open your eyes and witness how I conquer

everything I come across

Nothing can stop me!
I am indestructible, uncontainable you cant control me Im Marvin

King of These Parts
Come on, test me

Then feel my wrath come upon you like a million volcanoes erupting
Ease the pain!, my enemies they all said, so
Surrender your life to me now,
bow down before me and escape!

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

Letter to the Future


AJAY SINGH THAKURI
Dear future,
Hope you are fine out there. I am fine when I dont think about you. That doesnt mean I dont think
about you though.
I think about you every day, every night and every minute; like Romeo would think about Juliet.
I try not to think about you but believe me its very hard. Me without you is like a fish
without water.
So sometimes I think about you on purpose and that raises mixed emotions of excitement and fear.
Like a two sided coin which always comes together.
Dear future I have to accept you in whatever form you are willing to come. I will accept you with my
wide open arms. And I trust that you will bring some exciting news in the end, even if there are scary
things in the middle.
I would blindly trust you like a baby trusts their Mom and laughs when theyre thrown up in the air
because they know they will be caught.
I will be strong and laughing in my tough way which leads to exciting success.

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The Jacket that


Teaches Me Kindness
ANTENEH WORQW
I cannot even remember his face,
or his hair, his clothes.
But I never forget that guy.
This is 10/11 years ago
A very bad time for me, living rough
out of a plastic bag in Calais village
a place with no streets, no main road
it is Lunchtime, on my bench
I wait for food outside the main building
with everyone else. My head is down,
just thinking.
You ok?
I hear his voice. It makes me sit up straight.
He is standing in front of me.
I never see him before
And so he doesnt know my name
I dont know his
He says only one thing wait for me here
And then hes gone
and so I sit and I wait, still in the queue for the food
After 10 minutes he comes back
With a plastic bag in his hand
this is for you
I dont know what is inside the bag
But I take it from him
When I look inside, there is a jacket
And believe me, REALLY I need a jacket at this time
The jacket is royal blue
It is brand new
This is mine? I ask him
Yes it is yours. Put it on
So straight away I put it on
and this jacket keeps me warm
but it also teaches me kindness
this jacket is not just a jacket
It scratches my mind
You are human

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

Future, World
HASSAN BASHIR
The things we like to be are not difficult and not easy
I want to be the man of the world
I want dreams and I have dreams about the future
I hope to be healthy and believe I am good
The future knows everything about how to be
But the future you can make for yourself

Long Ago
MARGARET ADEWUYI
Long ago in the land where women were not allowed to work,
They had to stay at home, raise children and cook for their family.
There was a woman whose husband died and she was left with two young sons.
She had to fight to feed them.
Stubbornly, she farmed to feed herself and her sons.
She died in the process.
But other women stood up to fight.
Ever since then, women can work and support their family.

The Black Velvet Scarf


From My Mum
SANDRA MBALA

The scarf has lost a bit of its edge, but the colour is still beautiful. I can still smell my mums perfume
in it. She used to wrap it around her head, as a head wrap instead of a scarf.
Its very soft and smooth, reminding me of The Good Africa, great moments I had in my homeland,
when everything was peaceful; I was very young and didnt have to worry about anything. If it ever
carried a voice it would sound loud and feminine, just like my Mum.
The scarf taught me to be independent and a dynamic lady.

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

I Speak
KUMARI TARAPATLA
I speak as a child

with dreams about life
I speak as a girl

confused about life
I speak as a girl

who needs help with the confusion
I speak as a woman

who doesnt have enough time

to look after herself
I speak as a woman

who has problems but always remains happy

not to get depression
I speak as a woman who always gives advice to someone
I speak as a woman

who can do everything

Apple Sunrise
PEGAH KERMANI
I think Life is like an apple and Future is like our dreams. No one knows what the future is bringing
for us: happiness or sadness?
Is any hope or luck with Future?
Life, like an apple on a tree, will fall but no one knows how. Sometimes it drops straight but it might go
round and round or be changed by the wind. We dont know what life has decided for us.
My Mom always tells me to be optimistic, see the beautiful life. Life is just colourful We do not even
know what music Future is playing for us.
So, forget about Future and live in Present. Do not worry about Future. Dont be hopeless or sad
Remember
The darkest moment of life is nearest moment to sunrise.

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A Special Relationship
SARAH ARDIZZONE
Translator Sarah Ardizzone reflects on her relationship with French-Algerian writer Faza Gune
and why Brave New Voices plays a key part in it.
I can hardly believe that for more than a decade now Ive been enjoying an extraordinary dialogue
with the young French-Algerian author, Faza Gune.
When we first met, face-to-face in Paris, in the spring of 2006, Gune was twenty and on the brink
of international acclaim and I had just translated her first novel Just Like Tomorrow. Faza had
witnessed, first-hand, the banlieue riots of November 2005, which had wreaked havoc in her native
Pantin (a multi-racial suburb north east of Paris, in the notorious 93 postal code). And yet, alongside
these expressions of frustration and despair, Faza in creative solidarity with young people seeking
a brighter future was busy making films with the residents of her estate and working on her second
novel. Meanwhile, across the Channel, I was buzzing with the energy of the multilingual slangstas
of Live Magazine, Brixton whose roots stretched from the Caribbean to West Africa to Eastern
Europe, and who were putting in the hours as a new generation of emerging British journalists.
I started working with these 12-24 year-olds on their peer-to-peer publication through their slang
glossary (invaluable for a translator trying to transpose slang from the tarmac of the banlieue to the
metropolitan pavements of the UK). And I guess you could say one thing led to another
Faza and I have gone on to collaborate in all sorts of ways, including getting Live Magazines slangstas
to stage a scratch reading of an early draft of Faza s third novel, Bar Balto so that I could infuse my
translation with the young peoples voices and improvisations. But our most enduring and special
relationship has been with English PENs wonderful Brave New Voices Programme.
As if I needed any convincing, co-leading Brave New Voices workshops with young people, refugees
and asylum seekers, in schools, colleges and community centres around London always reminds me
of the impact of Faza s writing on her readers; and of how important this outspoken, brilliant,
blindingly funny young woman is as a role model for people from all walks of life seeking to write
their stories. Faza takes the aspiring writers she meets extremely seriously. She gives them concrete
building blocks for constructing and developing characters and plotlines. And participants emerge
from her workshops fired up to develop their voices, their fiction. Here are the words of one such
participant: I have really enjoyed having this workshop. It helps my mind race further and think
bigger. I love to read and write and I wrote a small novel while in high school in Kenya. My mother is a
literature teacher. I now am a single mum with a very energetic 1 year old and find it hard to sit down
with a book. Workshops and people like this give us much hope and happiness
On a personal note, one particular highlight of these workshops has been the participants curiosity
about our writer/translator relationship. Sometimes, people are astonished to discover that we
have developed a rich friendship; or that Faza doesnt consider my writing to be a betrayal of her
original, but rather a lease of new life. She likes to point out that, on occasion, there are ways we can
collaborate to make her joke even funnier in the English version.
Reviewing Just Like Tomorrow in the Financial Times, the novelist Michle Roberts described the
role of the translator as: building houses of language into which we can enter, travelling from all
directions, to meet and question one another. This, it seems to me, is a perfect description of the
ambition that drives Brave New Voices.

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

The Love Feeling


EMAN GONBOS
The song it is not in my language
Al rena laissa min loghati
But if I hear the song I can feel I understand whatever the song says.
The feeling that comes to me when I am over the sky, like a bird that wants to find something it lost.
Elated in my body, it tells me about everything that makes me dizzy

Be jahani mut abba


The wave is telling me about love, it takes me from north to east
Al mmoujahat tugh berni an alhoub behkodni min asharok elan alarub
It takes my mind into calm and peace.
I feel like I am going to jump from the mountain and before I reach the ground a big golden bird comes
and helps me.
In that moment I was like an eagle over the cloud.

You, boss
ELAF ALWADI
I feel happy. I am the boss
Ana adhak (I laugh)
I dont like people to tell me dont talk
Ana ashor balfarah (I feel joyful)
My blood inside races
Ana baghanny bsot aly (I sing in a high voice)
I dont care who hears me
Hear me
Can you hear me?
Kal shy baser hallow (Everything is a sweet secret)
I close my eyes to see the dance

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

One Long Journey


Down the School Corridor
(squeak squeak squeak)
SARVANGA REGMI
My squeaky pitch black shoes
Everyday they gave me the Monday blues
They were annoying because of their never-ending squeak
Squeak Squeak Squeak
My squeaky pitch black shoes
Meeting my usual friends everyday
Playing in the playground, hard stone concrete
And a rainbow of colours painted on
My squeaky pitch black shoes
Squeak Squeak Squeak

Future
INAS EL-RACHID
Dear future,
You are not a certain date but an ongoing phase. I am, tortured by the past and still standing in the
present.
Dear future, dear future me, dear future family wont be too harsh on my present. Dont be angry
about what youve burned but celebrate the things youve done and youre still to do.
The me writing this sentence is a different one from the beginning of this letter. Remember?
I hope you will always welcome me with your arms opened up wide, willing to host every version
of me arriving in the ongoing future.

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

Becoming Brave
NISHTA MAUREE
Brave they call me

but its the experience I had.
Rain with the taints behind closed doors
Afa of the house they called him

everyone listen to his words

Yellow, red and blue

his favourite colours, he said
Vulnerable I was, how could I let him mess with my head?
Even when he cared somehow

I believe
New beginning they gave me a life

where they make my decision if I stay or go
Enjoying the last minute of my freedom before they send me back to hell
We are on your side they said

but you still wanna see his favourite colour?
Voices in my head

Why wouldnt they leave me alone why are they in my dream
Options doctors gave me

Depression they called it

Pop a pill
I still blame myself
Choose your life now Nish

hes gone you cant be hurt again
Ego he had, his words keep messing with my head

tell me how it wasnt his fault
Sorrow I was left with
This is how I became brave

Pug
PEGAH KERMANI
This is the most faithful,
Sometimes I find it annoying,
Once it was the most scary nightmare,
The small, soft, thing that I have found
Sometimes I am tired of everything in the world
But when I look at its movement, I smile,
And feel the hope of a kind eye.

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

The Leaflets
FERDOUS
I am carrying a big heavy bag full of leaflets
for a Pakistani restaurant called Lhorry
there are so many of them, maybe 600
and every one I have to put through a letterbox
One huge building on Edgware Road is called The Park West
Maybe 800 flats in this one building
And so normally I am in there for two hours at least
I always go up in the lift to the very top, floor 8, the last one
And then work my way back down.
Today, on the third floor by the stairs
I find a 50 note
And I take it
And I finish the leaflets for the third floor, and the second one
And the first. And then I stay there, at the main door
And I stand next to my bike, and I hold the 50 note in my hand
So that anybody walking by could see it
And I look for people with tension or stress,
who maybe have lost the money
And I watch a lot of people, many different people
From many different countries
Black, white, tall, short, man, boy, children
2 Arabic ladies with a lot of shopping bags
Who I have to help through the door
And some people go one way and then come back the other
And I remember the first time I ever came to Edgware Road
When I lost my way as I tried to get to work
4 hours! And every street, building, house all looking the same
And so today, when I have waited for a long time
maybe 3 hours
And nobody says that the money is theirs
I decide to give this 50 to charity
For poor people
And I am happy, but when I get back to the shop
I still have some leaflets left which I have not delivered
Because I have been waiting all that time, watching people pass
And because I have to give some leaflets back I get paid less
But not so much, it is all OK

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

In an exercise taken from the (M)Other Tongues resource by Arvon, Salusbury World and Simon Mole
chose their favourites from a number of English words which actually originate in other countries
around the world. Each groups task was to write the story of how their word came to arrive in England,
but to do so imagining the word as a human character.

The Story of Monster:


an epic journey from ignorance
to acceptance
CAPITAL CITY ACADEMY/SALUSBURY WORLD, BRAVE NEW VOICES, SPRING 2016
Monster is an ugly man with a dress with blood on it who lives in a cave in Palestine.
Monster gives everyone compliments but no one listens to him.
One day he flies through the air to France. He has huge thick wings with blood on, that burst from
his dress. He is leaving because his mum has died.
In France he meets his ghost wife; with purple hair and red teeth and red eyes. She left him 55 years
ago. The reason she left him is that she didnt like his mother.
They both want to leave France together but she cant leave her location and she cant get a picture
for her visa.
Monster gets a visa and flies to England. At customs they ask: what is the purpose of your visit?
Monster just spreads his wings and growls.
The immigration officer freezes and listens to his every command: ok ok err fast track!
Monster finds a better cave, in the canteen at a place called Capital City Academy. And only the
students of CCA can understand him.
He teaches them all about caves, and takes over the cooking lessons, making pizza and traditional
Palestinian food; hummus, fattoush, baba ghanoush, kibbee balls, mansaf, maqluba.
And so everyone started to like Monster, but Mr. Thomas said you have to clean the blood from your
dress and your wings before you start to cook.
Monsters ghost wife still cannot get a visa so they have to keep in touch on Facebook, and Skype.

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

The Story of Robot


CAPITAL CITY ACADEMY/SALUSBURY WORLD, BRAVE NEW VOICES, SPRING 2016
Robot was a strong farm worker. He was 21 years old and he lived in a small village in the
Czech countryside.
Hey little sheep Robot smiled. It was Friday so he went to the pub and was straight on the vodka.
It was the only thing on his mind. Alcohol! Yaaaay!
He stumbled home, very drunk.
Robots mama shouted the dinners burnt! Youre drunk again Vodka Boy!
Robot dashed the dinner in the cow shed. MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Robot runs off to the dam. Orangey red bricks, old and dusty. Looking back at his village he sees it is a
beautiful place just 56 small houses made from wood. But he is still so angry and he kicks the dam.
Crack!!!!
One brick at a time the dam collapses, a tidal wave of water heading for the village then the sound
of villagers screaming, houses destroyed, people swimming, a floating saucepan and a plastic plate,
a black bowler hat on a wave, a cat clinging to a tree.
Robot is terrified. His face gets red, his heart beats quick. Goosebumps. His arms feel empty.
And he runs. Just runs. And runs. Panicking. Everything a blur. Until England.
And only when he stops does he think of his mama again. Is she dead or alive?

My First Light Up Shoes


NOMAN HABIBI
I wore the shoes and walked to school
As I was walking I knew Id be cool
Its cause I had the best light up shoes
But without the lights it would be bad news
I was walking in these shoes and they were comfy
I would jump up and down and they were bouncy
In these bouncy shoes I walked into class
Suddenly I jumped into the air so fast!
Gravity pulled me down and I landed heavily
Then everyone saw it and was angry with jealousy
Red blue red blue the shoes lit up bright
But if they turned off Id have to take flight
In these bright shoes I strolled with superiority
Because I knew I was the best in the nursery

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

The Jacket that Symbolises Love


JHAZMINE NICOLE SUMABAT
My jacket is white like a cloud.
Its soft like a fur. After I wear it
I need to hand wash it.
My mum gave me the jacket
two years ago, and I just wear it
two days ago. When we have
a family bonding or gathering
I always wear it. One time
I lost it
And I was so worried I couldnt stop
thinking about it. But then
I found it
And I felt I could live again.
I care about it
because my mum gave it to me.
It has two pockets where
I always put my hands.
Its cool, stylish and elegant
Thats why I love it.

Letter to the Future


SANDRA MBALA
Dear future,
So I heard you bring joy, relief and excitement. I also heard youre coming sooner than expected.
Are you one of the immigration news? I hope its a good one because I am fed up of hearing the
bad news; its about time, for once in my life, I have Good News.
Dear future, please carry with you my goals, pride and dignity.
So that in the city I will no longer live and feel like a stranger, but a citizen, a good citizen.
Dear future, Im here. I am standing and waiting for you, waiting with wild open arms.

Siblings
SEMHAR TEKLY
My small brother hid this candy under my bed but it rolled out and I found it. It looked very sweet and
I wanted to taste it and leave the rest but after I tasted it I couldnt stop eating and I finished it. Then my
brother came to eat it but it wasnt there and I was behind him laughing as he was searching for it.

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

The Sky Watches Over Us


PARASTOO NESHATDOUST
The sky is watching over the world.
Our cities appear beautiful in the eyes of sky.
Sky feels our emotions, thoughts, words
Cloud allows sky to have its own time,
Since no one is out there to look at.
The sky cries when it sees the injustice of the world.
Sky, its just like us, it likes to have time on its own,
And finds kindness the best strategy to get through adversity.

The Ankle Swingers


MARCIA MIMOSO
My ankle swingers are blue. They smell old.
But I love them. They are very soft
And when I walk in them they make a sound
Cthu cthu
I dont wear them outside because they are so old
But I would like to.
My ankle swingers make me remember back in the day
When I was fifteen years old
they were my special trousers
to go with my daddy to church
I hope that my ankle swingers stay with me
For many long years
To remember my adolescence

My Favourite Possession
FRANCESCA OJEFUA
My favourite possession is a gold bracelet. Its two gold bands joined together by three circles, the
one in the middle depicting the emblem of my native community. It is significant to me because it
was the last piece of jewellery left behind in an armed robbery that left my father dead. My mother
couldnt bring herself to wear it any more and almost threw it away, but I took it and still have it
fifteen years later.

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

Everlast
USMAN ALI
Labels and logos annoy me
When I wear it I feel uncomfortable
If it has a symbol
It itches
Sometimes its really annoying
I feel like cutting out the symbols
Its simple!
It looks fine, its just
I dont want it on my t-shirt!
Everyone has their own thought,
They can do what they want to do
Everlast lasts forever
But this one doesnt scratch me
The schools logo sounds cheap
Capital, capital, capital!
If you say it in front of someone they will laugh
But without logos they look nice
I want: stripes on my t-shirt
Navy blue
I look stylish when I wear it,
For special occasions,
Holidays mosques
Its soft. It is the best!

The Cloud
EMMANUEL GASHAIJA
Up in the sky, the cloud looks down. It believes that all the suffering, wars and poverty will come to
an end. The whole sky also feels the wait is over for me, and sees the future beautiful wife coming
my way, to fill my empty spaces with happiness.
The sky is proud of people who are working hard, though they dont get the praise they deserve.
It believes in people who cant see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The sky wants to change the way the government is running now, bring opportunities for everyone
who has been affected by major obstacles, and find a friendly environment for everyone.

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All About My Hijab


HEBATULLAH KOUNBUS
A hijab is the same as beautiful flowers on the grass.
The grass is always there
Your hijab is always there too.

Huwa mithil aiya deannea (It is like any religion)


Mithil Mahseer! Like Islam! Bodeein! Jesus! Allah! The Buddha!

Ehennar menrhatay shahadna lidalek ehennar


Happiness we saw in your hand happiness

Minastayah nehetarim deanitna


It is a platform to respect our religion

Nefsee kul haddah theyre


All of myself and this
I feel warm, excited, so happy!
It is the main thing for me
If I take it off I break my religion and I feel full of grief
If there were no flowers in the world
I would die with my hijab.

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

My Language
OLA OLOLADE
My language has taught me
How to be expressive
Mean what you say, even
If your words are missiles.
My language has taught me
How to be respectful
Words are bullets
Mind how you use them.
My language has taught me
That it doesnt matter
Whether youre rich or poor.
Only your actions matter.
My language has taught me
How to be shady
She looked quite nice
Has so many meanings.

Waiting
NISHTA MAUREE
Someone somewhere
Is making a decision about my life
Right now.
And it scares me to death
Knowing the outcome could
Be negative.
I feel worthless, hopeless, suicidal
When I think of it.
Everything that goes through my mind
So depressing
How can I stop the noises in my head?

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

In 5 Years Time
KYREESHA OAKLEY
In 5 years time I will be studying at university
and training to be either a midwife or a doctor.
I will be living by myself, taking care of myself,
doing the right things. Id hardly have any
friends to spoil my life. It will just be me,
myself. Hopefully I will be helping my family
too, making sure that no one is suffering.

My Dream
SAJEDA ALDAHI
I hear wind whispering
Trees swaying
A new language slowly making itself known
The first sight of my father returned
Short beautiful eyes
Big green eyes
Thin black hair
Jameel
My body now swims through water
I draw a family of birds in a tree

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

Frock (udupp)
NASEEHA FATHIMAH
Design of a rose with white stones and sequences
When I wear it I feel confidence
Smooth and silken it swims over my skin
Naan sundhariyaann
Flows across the floor as I walk
Naanathu dharichaal enikk shaandhiyum samaadhanavum thonnum.
menikk vellathileekk urusunnath pole thonnum.
When I am down at the water, the fishes look at me like I am a princess

My Trainers
JHAZMINE NICOLE SUMABAT
When people see them their eyes light up.
They ask me where did you buy them?
But I ask them, why?
And theyll say they are awesome. I have never seen anything like that before.
And I will say, thank you.
My trainers are not just ordinary trainers like others.
They symbolise something.
My mum bought them.
When she first saw them she loved them.
She was going to buy them for herself but she bought them for all of us.
She bought them for us because she loves us.
Binili niya ito para sa amin dahil mahal niya kami.
Its not just big things or big stories that show love.
Hindi lamang malaking bagay o malaking mga kuwento ang nagpapakita ng pagmamahal.
Small things show more love.
Ang mga maliliit na bagay ay nagpapakita ng higit pang pag-ibig.

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Welcome to the (Calais) Jungle


OLUMIDE POPOOLA
Dr Olumide Popoola is a writer, lecturer and the co-author of breach, a collection of
stories exploring the refugee crisis through fiction. Olu worked with new writers at
Salusbury World/Capital City Academy in Summer 2016.
I want to know you, I said.
The camp was sprawling below us,
the drizzle had made the wood damp,
our bums getting cold.
He looked into the distance.
Maybe he was thinking of home. Sudan.
Maybe he was thinking of the future when he arrived there.
I was thinking of my words.
I want to know what it is like to be you.
And he nodded again, understanding.
You cannot know a person in two hours.
Both of us were aware of it.
You cannot know them in three or four either.
Still, he nodded and believed I meant it.
Maybe he was thinking of home.
The one that was yet to come.
The one in the future.
Tell me what it is like to leave your country
and come all the way here. We both looked at the camp.
I learned a new meaning for squalid conditions.
And I thought of his present, the here and now.
Wondering how long it would last.
Wondering if he would disappear in its cracks.
We dont count recognition in passing minutes.
To know someone we count the effort.
You are here. I see you.

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

Safe Journey
FRANCESCA OJEFUA
I told him I had to leave for London. His eyes filled with tears and I could tell he was torn apart, between
allowing me to go and live the life of my dreams and remaining in this city that held no prospects. I was his
first love and he mine. It was hard for me to bring myself to tell him, but I had to. I couldnt just get on
a plane and disappear. I cursed the day Daddy applied for a visa as a surprise for having done well in my
final examinations.
Andrew meant a lot to me and I had planned my future with him. Now here I was, telling the love of my life,
the only man I ever loved, that we may never see each other again. He pulled me close, kissed my lips and
said, I love you so much but I cant be selfish. Go and achieve your dreams. Ill wait for you as long as I can,
but I make no promises and neither should you. Take care and I hope we meet again.

The Sky is Watching Praxis


GRACIE WANJA
The sky is watching Praxis.
Its looking at the people, the hopeless souls at the door going in without a clue of what will
happen next, without choice in what is unfolding, with very little vision in the long dark pitch black
tunnel of life.
Its encouraging them to go in, creating the feeling of anticipation of how much help is awaiting them,
the lift and push they need to get to the next step, the courage to open their eyes wide enough to see
that tiny dot of light at the end of the grim tunnel.
Its proud of the people who work tirelessly and late to fight for the rights of those with no voice,
proud of the volunteers who make it every week to support the different groups, proud of those who
attend appointments, court and personal intimidating places with those vulnerable.
Proud of those who get help and are able to give back.
It fears that maybe it will end and not be able to help more people one day. Its eager to get more
knowledgeable people so that the help will flow more smoothly and not have one person overloaded
with cases. It fears that the government will make it harder for genuine people of Praxis to be helped
and to be given the opportunity to live peacefully and work hard.
But at the end of it, the sky is happy. Happy for those who are able to work, travel, live, relax, happy
for those who see the end of the tunnel.
Happy, for those who feel accepted.

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

Happy Feet
JHONATAN DA SILVA RIBEIRO CAJAIBA
These are my first trainers since I came to London
I bought them with my mom
Its been more than one year ago
I like them a lot because they are silent and heavy
They dont get stinky and are a perfect fit for my feet
They are orange, white and black
Even after all this time they make my feet happy
I use them to go everywhere
It doesnt matter where, they will be there

Thoughts about Brave New Voices


SIMON MOLE
Simon Mole worked with new writers at Migrants Organise in Autumn 2015 and at Salusbury World/Capital
City Academy in Spring 2016.
As well as sitting neatly on the pages of this anthology, several of the poems included in it affected me
so strongly that they exist as living moments within my being. In one such poem, the writer tells of a time
when he was living rough out of a plastic bag, and was one day given a jacket by a stranger. The poem
explains that as well as being something he desperately needed on a practical level, the jacket had a
deeper and longer lasting impact on him: it keeps me warm, but it also teaches me kindness, it scratches
my mind, you are human.
I hope that poetry by refugees about their own stories, ideas and opinions can have a similar effect,
scratching beneath the surface of a readers consciousness to remind them of that shared humanity.
At a time when public perception of refugees and migrants is so skewed by negative media coverage,
this seems even more vital. A poem is something that you feel the meaning of, and to understand
something that you cannot quite put into words is a compelling experience.
Brave New Voices has been a very important project for me, and as well as giving me the chance to work
with two fantastic groups of young writers, it has pushed me to think more deeply about my own ideas
and beliefs. The face to face interactions I have had with refugees has strengthened my conviction that
we should be doing more to help them rebuild their lives and settle happily within our communities.
Every poet in this book is deserving of respect; putting your truth into the world, even when you fear that
world may be hostile to it, is a courageous and important thing to do.

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An English PEN book / READERS & WRITERS

I Write
MARVIN JACKSON
I write as a human being
Who doesnt want to be rich or famous, but
Just want to love and live in peace
I write because I wish it was reality.
Our world is falling apart
Because only a few know love, the
rest just depart
I write of a peaceful world to live in
Today, but our world is far from it
I write to encourage other people to write
To not be afraid of their oppressors,
And never to stop fighting for what they believe in
No matter the consequences
Even if they deprive you of water,
Dont worry
Your thirst will soon be quenched.
I write because I dont understand why
Fellow human beings are killing each other
Why is there no love?
Where is the equality?
Why is there so much brutality?
When can we come to our senses and realise
we are one?
I write because I cannot speak
They cut my tongue from my mouth because
I tell the truth
My friends name was Ruth, they plucked her eyes from her skull
Because she tells the truth and leads.
She cried and pleaded for them to stop, but
they just carried on
No emotions on their faces.
I write because I once sing
But because I sing of truth they robbed me of my voice
I write because I can and I will never stop writing; because I believe
What I write will soon be a reality.

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BRAVE NEW VOICES: A CITY IMAGINED

Even When (Mesmo Quando)


SAMIRA BEATRIZ FIDELIS
Conselho que voc d a si mesmo
Hold on aguente para
Mesmo que os tempos difceis
Aguente firme sempre e
Quando no tiver mais
Forcas continua.

Even if not goes well keep trying


Even when I cry my tears
Will be for watering my faith
E mesmo quando eu chorar as minhas lagrimas sero para regar a minha f.
Agarre sempre as oportunidades boas que a vida te der.
Always grasp the good opportunities that life gives you!

Brave New Voices


KUMARI TARAPATLA
Bright for the languages
Range for the English
Arranging meetings for the people
one Voice of this poem
New welcome for our emotions
Encouraging
Wonderful people, gathering
Valuable words
Open ways for new thoughts
Improving our skills
Choice of poems
sharing Emotions like stories
Spread our thoughts

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From Readers & Writers, the literature outreach programme of English PEN
Edited by Rebekah Murrell
English PEN is one of the UKs leading literature and freedom of expression charities, and is based at
the Free Word Centre in Clerkenwell, London.
English PEN promotes the freedom to write and freedom to read. The founding centre of a worldwide
writers association established in 1921, we are supported by our active membership, which is open
to everyone.
At www.englishpen.org you can find out more about the full range of English PENs activities
including campaigning for writers at risk around the world, running a full programme of public
literary events, awarding three annual literary prizes and giving grants to UK publishers for the
publication and promotion of world-class books translated into English.
The three-year Brave New Voices project has been supported by the Limbourne Trust,
the AB Charitable Trust and John Lyons Charity

English PEN is a company limited by guarantee number 5747142


and a registered charity number 1125610