‘And you ask where I come from It’s none of your business actually Where I get my beauty I respectfully decline your wish to know from which African roots my trees grow.’
The story of this anthology goes back to October 2020 when Connected Worlds ran a six week creative course called ‘The Way I Flourish’. The course was designed by women of colour for women of colour which aimed to provide a supportive and creative space for women to express their thoughts and feelings and transform them into poetry.
In the courses that followed, other poets joined us and we formed a diverse group with roots from Nigeria, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Iran. Although we came from different backgrounds, our lives and stories became intertwined, grew together, and were nourished by solidarity and friendship.
Our writing in this anthology are themed around identity, heritage, racism, stereotyping, home, journey, and love. The poems are acts of resilience and defiance to reclaim our identities and places in a country and a world divided by inequalities and invisible borders and walls.
‘It’s always arrivals that mean loss, not departures. In arrivals everything begins with the word, and no city in the world lets you pass without the word of gods.’
As women of colour, we painfully experience racism and different forms of discriminations which affect our mental health.
‘When will you go back?’ ‘Will they pay you a state pension?’ With your qualifications, why do you do the same job as me? ‘How come your family live in another country? Why? When? What? … So, for the rest of my days, I will only answer the question you daren’t ask. And the answer is yes, I will – tomorrow and every day after’
This anthology ends with light and rejuvenating tunes of hope. Our roots con-tinue to seek the ‘direction of the sun’ and celebrate the re-enchantment of life through love, community, and solidarity.
‘Together we retrieve, we reclaim, we reimagine, and we recreate Passing the calabash of knowledge From one to another Quenching our thirst on old wisdom We let the words fill the spaces between us Unuh Ubuntu Sankofa Every one of us an ember In the small fire setting to burn the land ready For new growth I am we(alth).’
Many thanks to our amazing group for sharing their beautiful words and wisdom: Shirin Teifouri; Susan Hunter Downer; Wemmy Ogunyankin; Carol Whiteley; Najma Heybe Ethel Maqeda. We would also like to thank Sheaf Poetry Festival’s organisers, Suzannah Evans and Genevieve Carver, for supporting our project and funding this anthology.
Tunes of Enchantment is available to buy online from the Sheffield Flourish website.