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Hear Our Stories
(10 customer reviews)

£10.00

“The only difference between you and me is a passport.”

These are the heartfelt words of many migrants and refugees seeking freedom and safety. For many, a passport is simply a means to travel, but for millions of migrants and refugees, a passport represents freedom, the right to live and work in other places and a better way of life. It is the golden ticket they need to live, to really belong. Hear Our Stories is a collection of poetry and prose about despair, hope, sadness, gratitude, and a sense of relief told by those who journey to the UK looking for a better life – the opportunity to be themselves, to connect with relatives and families or to work and grow.

Description

“The only difference between you and me is a passport.”

These are the heartfelt words of many migrants and refugees seeking freedom and safety. For many, a passport is simply a means to travel, but for millions of migrants and refugees, a passport represents freedom, the right to live and work in other places and a better way of life. It is the golden ticket they need to live, to really belong. Hear Our Stories is a collection of poetry and prose about despair, hope, sadness, gratitude, and a sense of relief told by those who journey to the UK looking for a better life – the opportunity to be themselves, to connect with relatives and families or to work and grow.

Imagine making a long journey around the world; each stage involves a stop-over, a delay. This anthology is divided into different chapters representing the many ‘stop-overs’ migrants face. Each stage of their journey is filled with fear and hope – constantly questioning if they will make it to their final destination. TogetherintheUK and Victorina Press bring together a collection of deeply personal lived experiences of migrants and refugees as they make their journey to a new life in the UK.

The Editors

About the Editors

Teresa Norman
This anthology feels to me like a culmination of so much of my working and academic life. In the 1980s, I studied English Literature at St. Andrews. I gained insight into how literature helps you live, through giving you insight. It also taught me how to create a structure that tells a story.

For over ten years, I have worked in diversity – this has made me aware of the importance of hearing different voices and creating a platform for those voices. This is what the anthology has done. I believe my talent to be
an unusual one, it is to facilitate the talent of others. I am proud of the creativity, quirkiness and literary quality of the authors in the book and that I have played a role in bringing them to publication.

Sinéad Mangan-Mc Hale
Working in the corporate world as both a writer and an editor, I communicate the pros and cons of energy, real estate, financial planning, and so many more diverse commercial products and services, but working on this anthology gave me the greatest joy. Volunteering with TogetherintheUK enables me to use my writing skills to share migrant and refugee stories to show that we all have the same hopes and dreams for ourselves and our families.

As an editor, my role is not to rewrite but rather to enhance the story; to bring an extra layer of depth to the stories the author is conveying. Against all my professional training, in this anthology, I have left much of the writing as the authors intended; with grammatical errors ignored as we, TogetherintheUK and Victorina Press, sought to share the stark honesty of the authors’ stories. To edit their words would have been to rewrite their experiences, to disguise their pain, sorrow, loneliness, hope, joy, or the discrimination they face. We want and need you, the reader, to hear their stories as they told them and lived them.

As a migrant myself, the stories resonated deeply with me. I did not experience a dangerous, abusive journey, but the sadness of leaving my family remains in my heart even after many years. We may never resolve the causes behind the rise of refugees and migrants, but we can always offer a smile and words of encouragement to those we meet.

Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes
The publishing world, artificially, divides books into fiction and non-fiction. But for me, all literary genres use strategies to express truths and realities of human, animal and environmental nature. The spider’s web which makes us co-evolve as we read and write has, since childhood, wrapped me with strong threads which have dressed my travels. In 2017 I embarked on a new cobbled path of books when I founded the publishing house Victorina Press, which is named after my mother. This new journey – like all others I have taken as a teacher, writer, and editor – is strongly rooted in Pachamama and in Chile, my motherland, where volcanoes throw ardent kisses to rivers, mountains, deserts, seas, and forests.

I am an academic, but I like that public space of loitering where I can unleash my creativity. I have been part of several creative writing groups because I like to read, write and ‘to memory’ in solidarity and accompanied, although I also give myself time to be alone with myself. This has resulted in several books of poetry and narrative. In my books of poetry entitled La Liberación de la Eva Desgarrada (1990) and Arena en la Garganta (2010) I try to face that grit that scrapes my throat and my voice when I tell in metaphors what happens through my body now, during and after the torture to which I was subjected in Chile in 1983.

10 reviews for Hear Our Stories

  1. Peter Hill

    Moving, sometimes amusing, immigrants relate the trials and joys of rebuilding their lives in Britain. The poetry, composed in an unfamiliar language, is a special delight, though you might be reduced to tears at times.

  2. James

    A wonderful compilation of stories on migration. The structure is thematic and gives a window into the soul of migration.

  3. Mem

    Beautifully written stories on migration – takes you into the depths of the migrant world. Hopes, fears and emotions are honestly revealed. Very thoughtful and yet just a tip of the iceberg.

  4. Peter

    We all need to hear the stories and poems by migrants gathered in this powerful anthology. I found myself inspired, horrified, filled with compassion and simultaneously amazed by the resilience implicit in its many deeply personal stories. It provides an excellent counterbalance to the often polarised, objectifying dialogue around migration and opens the possibility of a more compassionate response to fellow human beings.

  5. Johann

    I have really enjoyed reading the anthology and it really illustrates the value of learning through lived experiences. The stories were poignant and raw, individually telling a story of emotions, decisions and actions that are so profound in their consequences.
    I salute the bravery of the families/authors in sharing their experiences with us, but then also to write about it in order to capture the knowledge for the future.
    The editing was sensitively done and I especially loved the fact that the stories were published as they were written – no editorial correction of grammar etc.
    I hope there will be further projects from the publishers and organisations who put this together.

  6. Sonja Morgenstern

    A couple of these stories brought tears to my eyes, even though my own story also appears in it I wasn’t prepared for the mental impact some of the other accounts of migration had on me.

  7. Lau C

    ‘Hear our stories’ is an anthology of poems and first-hand stories of people from all over the world migrating to the UK. What makes these stories equally inspiring for me was not only their “rawness”, but also how relatable they are. Their stories are our stories.

  8. Damayanthi

    ‘Hear Our Stories’ is a collection of poems and first-hand stories about people from around the world immigrating to the UK. These stories are equally inspiring to me because this is my story too. It gives a whole new perspective about the journey’s people been through and made me rethink about everything.

  9. Alison Hramiak

    A moving and inspiring book, literally, from cover to cover. The front cover, created by the artist,
    Sophie MacKenzie, based on a concept by Kosta Eleftheriadis, is a beautiful way to start the book,
    showing the authors from the anthology ‘watering a bed of flowers from where people are emerging
    to make the journey from their homeland’. This is a skillful metaphor, realised in an image to
    encourage the reader to explore further.
    It is followed by a dedication on the next page that concisely describes , the why and how this
    collection came about, ‘lest we forget’. The foreword, by Teresa Norman, is well worth a read too. It v
    carefully explains the reasons behind the book, giving an insight into the structure of it; the different
    chapters, ‘represent the different stages migrants face when coming to the United Kingdom’. These
    stages culminate in a final chapter with a collection of pieces that ably demonstrate how migrants
    have a relationship ‘with two cultures in two different countries’. A very fitting way to end the book.
    The bit that stood out for me in the introduction to the anthology by Lord Alf Dubs, was his ‘belief in
    the power of storytelling’ as a way of reaching out to migrants who have stories to tell, and how this
    allows us to see through their eyes, and to better understand their situations. This does, as Lord Dubs
    says, ‘gives us questions to make us think’, something that these authors in this collection have
    undeniably achieved.
    Here are some of my favourites, (there are so many to chose from) from the five different chapters,
    which will whet your appetite for more. Each chapter has its own introduction written by people with
    very personal and relevant experiences to share; each introduction lays the foundations for the chapter.
    For each of these pieces, there is a short biography of the author that sets the context of the piece they
    have written. This allows the reader to better visualise, the author’s context, and why they wrote what
    they did.
    Chapter 1: The Journey
    This focuses on the journey undertaken by migrants, and holds a variety of writing that keeps the
    reader engaged and drawn into different events. For example, you can feel the anguish in Michael
    Ndoun’s words in the poem, ‘Survivor’s Plea’ on p15 despite the positive ending to his poem:
    ‘Waiting for the sun, a chance at a new day.
    Worth living.’
    Abida Akram’s words in the poem, ‘The Journey (1964)’ on p19, leave you with an uplift when
    describing their experience of snow:
    ‘Melting, cold pieces
    of soft cotton falling from a slate-grey sky,
    three months later,
    made me laugh with wonder.
    A year later, I found my voice again.’
    Both these pieces, for me, balance out the heart rending words in pieces like Yousef’s prose on p21,
    and which leaves one with the message that these stories continue, ‘day in and day out’.
    There is a resonanc, in the connection between the different poets, who, having travelled from warm
    dry places, find themselves in a cold wet England where they speak of ‘foreign rain’, a resonance

    borne of the way the rain is used as a metaphor for difference, such as in Morshed Akhtar’s words on
    p27, taken from the poem, ‘Even Rain has an Identity’:
    So, this rain remains foreign to me with a strong identity.
    So, even rains have an identity, do they?
    What is my identity then, in this land?
    But does the rain also have a race?
    Chapter 2 Granted
    This chapter describes what happens to refugees once they arrive in the United Kingdom. Frank’s
    story (p37) is particularly moving, with its practical details of the day-to-day existence in hostels. His
    words also reverberate with Ruth’s story on p53 as she describes the difficulties with common daily
    situations. Compare these to the very real place described in Loraine Masiya Mponela’s poem ‘I Own
    Nothing’ on p49 which shrewdly and starkly highlights how:
    ‘the stroke of a pen can take it all away’
    The repeated line:
    ‘breaks my peace’
    Echoes through the poem and in the mind of the reader, leaving one mindful of how very fragile the
    existence is for refugees.
    Chapter 3 Discrimination
    Reading about the discrimination migrants face, I found myself ashamed to be linked to the (probably,
    arguably?) white people judging, without thought or feeling, those who are different from them, as
    portrayed in these very painful pieces. Read, for example, Michael Ndoun’s final poem on p73, and
    unearth such sadness in his words, and such anger intelligently applied to poetry in the lines of
    ‘Immigrant Blues’:
    ‘The shadows of my sorrow yearn for a better tomorrow
    with less commotion.
    My melanin dictates whether I’m an immigrant or an
    expatriate in a land with more
    right motion.’
    This chapter is relatively short but packs a powerful punch.
    Chapter 4 Making a Life
    We get a different perspective here with an introduction by Prof. Jonathan Portes, an expert in
    economics and public policy at King’s College, London. It illuminates the lack of understanding of
    how migrants enhance our lives. ‘Girl like Me’ on p79, by Sonja Morgenstern is incredibly poignant,
    and brings to the fore how terribly divisive Brexit was. For me, and at the risk of being too partisan,
    this should be a mandatory read for anyone who voted to leave Europe, (but maybe I’m being a tad
    unbalanced here?).

    On pages 83 to 86 we get a child’s eye view from Erin Bresler of what it means to be taken to a
    different land, with no say in the matter. As a child myself, I moved from Halifax to a village south of
    Huddersfield, (all of 15 miles) because my parents needed to find work. I found it difficult as a 10-
    year-old to adapt to my new school, with its different accents and different dialects, (and we were still
    in West Yorkshire – we hadn’t even moved out of the county!). I still felt like a stranger in a strange
    land, and it took a while to adapt, and to forgive my parents. Reading these pieces in Chapter 4, makes
    one respect and admire the authors of these stories even more, when compared with them, my ‘move’
    seems trivial. If I found it difficult without leaving my ‘shire’, then think how difficult it must be for
    those who travel thousands of miles to find a new home.
    Chapter 5, Relationship with your country of origin
    This chapter is a collection of writing that brings about a wonderfully fitting way to end this book,
    telling of, in many cases, journey’s that are yet to be completed. This is a chapter of great contrasts in
    terms of where the stories originate from and in how they are told. They speak of gain and loss of
    difference and similarity, demonstrating that there is more that connects us than divides, something
    that is reflected deeply in this chapter. Read how, on p142, Susan Ozer describes being ‘back in this
    beautiful green country called England’ that makes her’ heart jump when the plane emerges from the
    clouds’. Compare this with Goody’s determination to keep his Punjabi heritage on p143, who speaks
    of how she will keep both cultures:
    ‘Alongside being British,
    I won’t take the Punjab
    Out of my bones’
    I particularly liked Erica Pham’s poem, Growing Up ‘Different’ to my Mum, (p145) which speaks of
    the loss of her cultural identity and how it ‘runs deeper than mere speech and language’, weaving this
    theme to describe the sacrifices her mum made in the, (very moving) last few lines on p146.
    And finally
    This book takes you on a journey that is ongoing, and one which raises more questions than it
    answers. It enables the reader to better understand people, to imagine wearing their shoes. In doing so,
    it might help us to create a better world. With this in mind I will leave you with Inna Martinova’s
    words from her poem ‘In Britain’ on p104:
    ‘Carrying my longing through the years
    I will walk for many more years.
    I’ll seal my doubts in verse
    and with a smile on my face, I will learn this world.’

  10. Phil Jones

    This is a wonderful book. It took me longer to read its 160 pages than other books with twice as many pages, because the content is so emotional. I often had to pause for reflection. By turns hopeful, sad, wistful and humorous, the stories seemed to me to have the authenticity of lived experience.

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