by Carmina Masoliver
Whilst living in Spain – though I have missed my loved ones – what I have missed most is the abundance of poetry and arts nights you can find in London. It wasn’t long before I arrived in Córdoba that I went in search of events. I saw an old poster for a “Poetry Slam” at the Jazz Café, but it didn’t appear to exist any more. I then stumbled upon Mujeres Poetas Internacional. I contacted founder Jael Uribe, from the Dominican Republic, and she soon responded and contacted the organisers in Córdoba, and even translated four of my own poems into Spanish.
I corresponded with Sergio Perez Rodrigeuz and Maria Pizarro, organisers of the Grito de Mujer at which I was booked to read. I emailed in Spanish, which perhaps led them to believe I could speak Spanish, which is certainly not the case (writing =/=speaking). There were awkward moments, such as me not realising a group photograph included me and having it retaken, and me staring blankly when trying to discuss the proceedings (thankfully an audience member with some English skills stepped in). But for a night of poetry where I could only pick out a few words, it showed that poetry was well and truly alive in Spain.Continue Reading
Content warning: female genital mutilation
by Lauren Marsh
“Because women and girls are not valued equally as human beings, they are treated as less than such. Female genital mutilation is an example of this that has to be stopped” –Waris Dirie
I have just returned from spending 3 months volunteering in Nigeria with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) as part of the ICS programme. International Citizen Service (ICS) is a once-in-a-lifetime volunteering opportunity open to all 18-25 year olds, backed by the UK government.
There is a strong emphasis on guided learning for the volunteers and to engage with this all volunteers had to take part in something called an ACD (Active Citizenship Day) — the aim of which is to present a global issue to the rest of the team to raise awareness and encourage them to instigate change. My Nigerian host home counterpart Bunmi and I presented ours on the subject of FGM (female genital mutilation.)Continue Reading
by Carmina Masoliver
In 2013 I was amongst around twenty poets long-listed for the first Young Poet Laureate for London prize. I remember meeting Warsan Shire that day; she seemed quiet, perhaps nervous, yet confident and bold. We performed one piece to a panel of judges, and I was either before or after Shire. Although she prefers writing to performing her work, I remember being blown away by not only the words, but the delivery of her poem Ugly. I remember that I had already heard lines quoted by Kayo Chingonyi from a workshop he was leading for students at the school where I work. It was no surprise when Shire was shortlisted, much less when she won.
To have the power to write poetry that sticks in the mind is certainly a gift that Shire bestows in much of her work. I have since had the pleasure of seeing Shire again at the launch of the first Podium Poets anthology, by Spread the Word, and attended workshops lead by her on an Arvon retreat. As an aspiring poet, she is an inspiration to many as a writer and as a human being.Continue Reading