World Refugee Day on June 20th saw solidarity with refugees and migrants expressed the world over. While it was difficult to know how to celebrate this day in a time of record forced displacement and such intense and increasing hostility facing those who need to migrate, West London Welcome was keen to mark the day in ways that could temporarily alleviate the immense anxieties of those who visit us, and celebrate the community we are building together.
With this in mind, we made the focus of the day on unwinding and the community enjoying themselves. This meant a day of delicious food, massages, beauty treatments, drumming, singing, inviting friends of the centre to visit, and performances of some of the centre groups’ hard work over the past few months.
While people dined on the dreamy concoctions of our chefs, we were treated to moving readings of the recent writings of West London Welcome’s writing and reading group. The group has grown tremendously since it began last year – both in size and in the way in which relationships have formed and developed within it – and we have previously chronicled the group’s beginnings, reflections on their experiences together, and their experiments with poetry.
We’re now extremely proud to share with you West London Words: An Anthology of Poetry: a sample of the group’s poetry over the past few months. These writings, by Elizabeth, Gabriel, Chirin, Mounia, Maria, Sarya, Jalal, Betty, Ali, Raj and Fardowso, span a wide range of topics and themes, and many, but not all, relate to the experiences of migration. As the hosts of the group, writers Anna Perera and Catherine Davidson, note, the group aren’t always writing during their sessions; they might just be taking their time reading and discussing poems, stories, books, or plays, and enjoying the blossoming of relationships between group members that this time allows for. This culmination of writings, then, can be understood as a particular slice of the collective experiences of the group and their shared love of the written and spoken word.
The anthology is freely downloadable here.