Below the Surface

An Exceptional Quartet of Poets
Music too!

Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX
(tube Covent Garden or Leicester Square)

Mir Mahfuz Ali – Mimi Khalvati
– Omar García-Obregón – Shazea Quraishi

Music: Freddy Macha from Tanzania
Mir Mahfuz Ali was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh.He has given readings and performances at the Royal Opera House and other theatres in Britain and beyond. His poems have been widely published. Mahfuz was shortlisted for the New Writing Ventures Awards 2007 and Picador Poetry prize 2010. He is the winner of Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2013. Midnight, Dhaka (Seren: 2014) is his first collection. He is now working on his second book.
Mimi Khalvati has published eight collections with Carcanet Press, including The Meanest Flower, shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, and Child: New and Selected Poems 1991-2011, a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. A new collection of sonnets, Afterwardness, is due in October 2019. She is a founder of the Poetry School and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Omar García-Obregón is a Cuban born, British-American academic, award-winning poet and a human rights activist of Spanish descent. He is a Professor of Hispanic Studies and Comparative Poetics at Queen Mary University of London, where he has worked since 1992. His new collection is Fronteras: ¿el azar infinito? (Leiden: Bokeh, October 2018) Borders: An Infinite Game of Dice?
Shazea Quraishi is a Pakistani-born Canadian poet and translator whose poems have appeared in UK and US publications. Her collection is The Art of Scratching(Bloodaxe: 2015)and she is adapting her chapbook The Courtesans Reply as a play. She has received a Brooklease Grant from the Royal Society of Literature, and an Artists International Development Fund award from the British Council and Arts Council.


Open Mic

Host: Jennifer Langer

£5 entry/£3 EWI 2018 members and asylum seekers.
If payment is a problem for asylum seekers, no problem: contact in confidence exiledwritersink@gmail.com

Africa-London: Insiders Outsiders

Music too!
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Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX
(tube Covent Garden or Leicester Square)

Christina Fonthes – Fatima Hagi – Hasani Hasani-
Amos Ruiz – Freddy Macha – Alemu Tabeje
Music: Otto Gumaelius

Christina Fonthes is a Congolese-British writer.Her
work, laden with themes of womanhood, sexuality, and mental health has featured
in several publications around the world.
In 2017 she was longlisted for the OutSpoken London Page Poetry Prize. Christina is founder of REWRITE,
a development organisation for black women and women of colour

Alemu Tabeje is an Ethiopian exiled journalist, poet, lyric writer and campaigner who left his country in the early 1990s. He runs the website www.debteraw.com and his poems have been published in Amharic, English and Chinese, as well being projected on to buildings in Denmark, Italy, USA and UK. His first collection of poems, including the script of a sketch commissioned by BBC Radio 4, Tamrat in the Cyclops Cave(Tamrat Books)was recently published.
Amos Ruiz was born in Madrid in 1984 to a Spanish father and an Equatoguinean mother. He studied Mathematics at University of London (BSc) and University of Oxford (MSc) before working in investment banking for five years. He moved away from the world of finance at the age of 31 to pursue a creative career as an author and filmmaker. Two years later, on October 2018, he independently published his debut novel: SPILT PEPPERCORNS.

Fatima Hagi was raised in London but spent her early years in Somalia during a period of civil war that saw her family flee to Kenya; her works draw on her experiences, both past and present, and reflect on displacement, hybrid identities and womanhood. Her passion for human rights has seen her revisit East Africa, working for the United Nations and using her writing skills to raise awareness on marginalised societies. Fatima holds a Master’s in Anthropology from SOAS, University of London and is a committee member of Exiled Writers Ink.

Hasani is a writer from Zimbabwe who left his native country due to political strife. He writes poetry and short stories and advocates for the recognition of human rights and justice in Zimbabwe. He is a member of Freedom from Torture’s Write to Life, a creative writing group. His story ‘A life away from the Asylum’ appeared in ‘Five Dials’ magazine issue 29.

Freddy Macha is a Tanzanian born writer who always integrates his writing with his music. He has published two Swahili story collections and won writing awards including the BBC Poetry Prize in 1981. He has been writing weekly columns in the East African media since the mid 70s and does regular blogs and You Tube channels. He runs workshops in schools, prisons and colleges.

Otto Gumaelius is a London based, Botswana raised, percussionist specialising in the marimba and mbira of southern Africa. He writes and performs with his band Otto & The Mutapa Calling, and teaches both marimba and mbira music from Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana through his company, Taste of Southern Africa.

Open Mic/Discussion
Host: Handsen Chikowore

£5 entry/£3 EWI 2019 members and asylum seekers.
If payment is a problem for asylum seekers, no problem: contact in confidence exiledwritersink@gmail.com



Work by London Palestinian artist, Mona Hatoum

An evening in partnership with Amnesty International: writing about and from those imprisoned for their words in Egypt, Turkey, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Includes readings, video, music
and a live performance of new work by Amir Darwish.

Part I: Ahmed Mansoor
Ahmed Mansoor is an Emirati blogger and human rights defender whose imprisonment – currently serving a ten year sentence has drawn attention around the world. To highlight his story, we will show a short excerpt of a film by Manu Luksch, who will appear in person to present to work. Afterwards, journalist Bill Law and human rights activist Drewery Dyke will share personal recollections and poetry in English and Arabic. Poet Albert Pellicer (Kingston University) will also read work in support of Ahmed Mansoor.

Part II: Ashraf Fayadh

Ashraf Fayadh is a poet and artist of Palestinian origins whose death sentence in Saudi Arabia has been commuted to 8 years in prison and 800 lashes. The subject of a worldwide reading at the Berlin International Literature Festival in 2016, our event will highlight his work, read in Arabic and English, by poet and translator, Jonathan Wright.

Part III: Galal El-Bahairy

Galal El-Behairy is an Egyptian poet and lyricist who has been imprisoned in Cairo since March, 2018. Sentenced by a military court for three years, he has case still pending for the lyrics of one of his songs. Songs with his lyrics will be featured along with his poetry.

Part IV: Nedim Türfent
Nedim Türfent is a journalist and poet currently serving an eight-year prison sentence for “terrorist activities” in Turkey. The subject of a campaign by English PEN, his poetry will be read in translation and the original Turkish by Ege Dündar. Poems in support of Nedim Türfent will be read by James Miller.

Part V: Amir Darwish
Amir Darwish is on the Board of Exiled Writers Ink. A British/Syrian poet of Kurdish origin, born in Aleppo in 1979, he came to the UK as an asylum seeker in during the Second Gulf War. He will be reading from his recently published memoir, From Aleppo Without Love.
Co-host Simone Theiss blogs about human rights and freedom of expression under CiLuna27. A member of the Amnesty International Westminster/Bayswater Group, she has organised the event with the support of Amnesty and English PEN.

EWI Host Catherine Davidson is a novelist, poet, teacher who runs poetry workshops for Exiled Writers Ink and the West London Welcome for Refugees.

During the break and after the event, there will be an opportunity to participate in actions on behalf of those imprisoned writers featured, including postcards, and links to petitions.

Audience response & Open Mike