Anti-Racist Collective

On the Frontline: Other Voices

This project began in March 2023 and is kindly funded by the Edge Fund and the N. Druker Charitable Trust.

If you would like to join the Exiled Writers Ink Frontline Anti-Racist Collective, please contact

If you know of an organisation or group that would be interested in hosting a reading and/or workshop, please contact

The Aim of the Project
These are challenging times for Muslims, Jews and Black people with these groups on the frontline confronting racism. Exiled Writers Ink has a key role to play in bringing together a diverse range of writers of Jewish, Muslim and Black backgrounds in the creative process. In the face of increasing hostility, Muslim, Black and Jewish cultural communities can draw strength and solidarity from one another. Fundamentally, the project is dedicated to building bridges and to creating a space for understanding and empathy.

Activities so far
So far there has been a launch event which took place in March 2023 and was also part of the Alternative Arts East London Women’s History Festival. It featured women poets who provided surprising insights into the complexity of identity. The poets were Yvonne Green, Sana Nassari and Hamdi Khalif.

Four workshops then took place in spring 2023 in a beautiful seventeenth century house in Great Ormond Street. These were developed and delivered by the established poets and tutors Dr Aviva Dautch, Nick Makoha and Shazea Quraishi and were very well-attended by developing writers from a range of Black, Muslim and Jewish backgrounds.

We are now expanding the conversation to involve communities in London. We aim to form a collective of exiled writers to perform and engage with local London communities in a roadshow to be spread over at least a year. We hope creative alliances will be formed to work together against intolerance.

Our first roadshow activity in July 2023 was a workshop with the Afghan women’s group of the Afghan Association of London based in Harrow. Ziba Karbassi and Jennifer Langer were the facilitators. We began by discussing the concept of poetry, including landays, a traditional Afghan poetic form, and then the women participated in the repeated lines of one of my poems and listened to a poem by Ziba. We followed this by showing the women our identity objects in relation to the senses, including gazing and touching at Ziba’s beautiful Iranian tiles and tasting Jewish ceremonial bread. There was a lot of interactive discussion to draw out similes around the women’s meaningful objects. Finally, they chose two lines from their poem and we ended by creating a collaborative poem.

Poem by Maliha Kabir
Oh those roses of my childhood in our large qala
Pink as a baby’s cheeks
The petals soft as velvet
And the fragrance
Reminds me of the early morning
When the sun rises.
My grandmother grew them with love
With love I feel her soul
She was a powerful, strong women
Still, she protects us
Still, she gives us strength when times are hard.

The blushing roses in my dear friend’s garden
Her strong personality, her appearance
Take me back to my grandmother’s time.

Our Exiled Lit Cafe in August 2023 ‘Beyond the Identity Stereotypes’ formed part of the initiative. Exiled Writers Ink presented a literary focus on the complexity of identity in relation to Jews and Muslims, two of the groups on the frontline confronting racism. Participants included Ariel Kahn, Shahaduz Zaman, Nada Menzalji, Gabriel Spiers and Selim Jahan.

A workshop for local people took place at West Greenwich Library in October 2023 featuring Barbara Saunders, Omer Aksoy and Dzifa Benson. Here is the collaborative poem that was created which is a reflection of the complexity of the multi-faceted strands of identity.

I am Greenwich

I am crazed, glazed, bordered with oranges
sit on a crown MADE IN ENGLAND
I hear my own voice without an echo
a beached pebble in your pocket
Each question I ask washes away the last
connects with the next. In silence I keep asking
I am here to remind you
I long to be lashed once again by the salty surge
My skin is made of fabrics
stitched from sleepless nights
a single mother on minimum wage
Sharp, unripe, I draw their tongues
I can be bad for your teeth
The man took me on journeys and outings any
moment could be an opportunity for prayer

An Exiled Writers Ink session was due to be presented as part of the November Tsitsit Jewish Fringe Festival but unfortunately, because of the October 7th attack, most of the Festival events were cancelled. However, our February 2024 Exiled Lit Café titled ‘The Present Cannot Breathe: A Time of Wars’, provided a space through poetry for the Jewish and Palestinian poets Dr Aviva Dautch and Dr Atef Alshaer to express strong emotions in relation to identity and the Israel Gaza conflict.

March 2024 will see a workshop for asylum seekers at the Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network with Max Fishel, Najma Saher and Xaviera Ringeling.

Exiled Writers Ink, represented by Adam Kammerling, Amir Darwish and Dzifa Benson, will also participate in Middlesex University’s Storyfest and Interfaith event although the ‘On the Frontline’ project is not intended to be a faith project as arguably, simplistic assumptions may be made about the complexity of identities.