Saturday Links: Poetry and Fiction Edition

One of the best ways to create empathy and understanding towards different groups in society is through the power of storytelling, narrative and fiction. Once someone is able to see something from another perspective and is able to grasp a fraction of the emotions and motivation involved in a situation, then compassion and sympathy can be fostered. On this rainy, dull Saturday (in which I presume everyone is inside watching Halloween specials), the aim is to get you inspired by some Saturday Links to some amazing pieces of fiction that shed a light on the perspective of refugees’ journeys and struggles.

‘Home’- a poem by Warsan Shire

-Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet, who is currently working and writing in London. Her poem ‘Home’ deals with the concept of the destruction of one’s homeland, and the ways in which an entire life must be abandoned in pursuit of safety. It includes one of the most emotive and beautiful summaries of the refugee crisis; “you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land.”

‘We Refugees’- a poem by Benjamin Zephaniah

-Benjamin Zephaniah is a Jamaican-British writer, who wrote the young adult novel ‘Refugee Boy’ (2001) which is a part of the British national teaching curriculum. Benjamin is famous for bringing information and empathy towards the refugee crisis to the masses, and this poem ‘We Refugees’ is no different. The poem stresses the transience of human existence, and how the slightest political change (he uses the example of ‘a handshake’) can change the entire course of existence and life.

‘What They Took With Them’ by Jennifer Toksvig

-This is a beautiful dramatic & spoken word reading of the poem by Jennifer Toksvig, and read by a group of celebrities including Cate Blanchett, Jesse Eisenberg and Kit Harrington. This reading was orchestrated by the UN refugee agency UNHCR in order to support its WithRefugees petition. This poem demonstrates how little refugees are able to take with them, and by documenting the minimal amount of items they were able to flee with, gives an insight into the true desperation and fear that they feel on a day to day basis.

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