Speaking for Ourselves

Hear Our Stories: Migration in prose and poetry

Hear Our Stories: Migration in prose and poetry


 Migrant Voice - Hear Our Stories: Migration in prose and poetry

Migration! Such a tangled subject, so many opinions, so many voices, but who is listening to the migrants themselves? Now someone has given them a place to air their thoughts, feelings and experiences, and what a dazzling medley it is. Hear Our Stories is a collection of prose and poetry gathered by TogetherInTheUK, an organisation founded in 2016 to share migration stories and to provide information and advice about life in Britain for new arrivals.

Life has been tough for all the contributors; their stories are full of pain and despair, but also of courage and hope. Some impressions that flashed like sparks:

Daniel: People falling off packed trucks in the Sahara and left behind, the longing for somewhere clean and safe. Michael: waiting for the chance of a new day. The smugglers who “see refugees as a commodity that can be disposed of without a second thought.” Asha, who wonders what it feels like to be happy, to smile without faking.

Frank, arriving safe in the UK then the agony of waiting in a hostel, “waiting to be accepted, to be free. How some are promised good jobs and houses but end up being kept in other people’s houses with neither payment nor freedom.” Exploitation and underpaid jobs are a recurrent theme.

Chelsy, forced to move from place to place, making friends with other children only to be torn apart and moved again to bad places where people steal, but finally to a house with a room of her own, and achieving great SATs at school. Evelyn, born in Britain but denied citizenship, marginalised, under-estimated.

“Even in death they don’t matter,” laments the poet Loraine Masiya Mponela, but in a later verse she speaks of the love she has found. “I have seen the better side of humanity.” Abida, from Pakistan, recalls the sharp crack of stones hitting the window and roof. The target: the immigrant house. The patter of shoes running away.

Migrants talk about the difficulties and joys of learning a new language. “We found pleasure in making our lips and faces go in new directions.” Others tell of the kindness of neighbours, of making new friends. Sumia says: “After I came to the UK I became a stronger, more empowered person... I had the freedom to be the person I wanted to be.”

Then there is the dilemma of wanting to become integrated into a new country’s ways but yearning for the culture and life of lands left behind, which persists into the generations.

It would be misleading to read just a few of the entries – the individual accounts make sense when viewed as a rich cornucopia of sadness, joy, fear and deliverance.


Hear Our Stories: An Anthology of Writings on Migration (victorinapress.com)

Join the book launch on 28 September.

Photo credits: Courtesy of TogetherintheUK and Victorina Press

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