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the Light f the LightS

R e a de RS & WRi t e R S
V O L U M e ON e

English PEN Readers & Writers Volume 01

t h e L i g h t Of t h e L i g h t S

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the Light f the LightS

R e a de RS & WRi t e R S
V O L U M e ON e

Contents

First published in Great Britain in 2010 by English PEN, Free Word, 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3GA 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Collection copyright English PEN, 2010 The moral right of the authors has been asserted. The views expressed in this book are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the editors, publishers, or English PEN. All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of the book. A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN 978-0-9564806-0-6 Typefaces used. Headers set in 10/13pt Neuzeit S. Published by Linotype, 1966. Text set in 9/13pt Archer. Published by Hoefler & Frere-Jones, 2001. Printed and bound in Great Britain by Aldgate Press, Units 5&6, Gunthorpe Street Workshops, 3 Gunthorpe Street, London E1 7RQ www.aldgatepress.co.uk Designed by here, Temple Works, Brett Road, London E8 1JR www.heredesign.co.uk

06.......... Writers Introduction Mark Guven, Helmut Ogbeni, Nadia Ibrahim, Nidhal Al Jibouri & Yaya Yosof 07........... Finding Your Voice Daljit Nagra 08.......... Setting Foot in Words Miriam Halahmy 10........... Duty is Not an Exact Science. Now Lets Laugh at a Swiss Chicken Over a Beer, Dad Alessandra Pirovano 11........... Narciso Desnudo Ennio Bollici ( Part 1 of 2) 12........... Pay Day Ennio Bollici 13........... This Is A Poem About A Country I Love Nidhal Al Jibouri 14........... My Name Jojo Nganga 16........... We Temples Build Emily* Said Alessandra Pirovano 17........... Remember Then Sarah Bopape 18........... Paradise Lost Ennio Bollici 19........... Kwenadi Sarah Bopape 21........... My Name Esther Freud 22.......... Oh Father Ibreem Yaya Yosof 24.......... Far Away From Native Shores Mark Guven 25 .......... The Blue Dress Enrico Sibour 27........... My Rose, My Cause of Pain Nadia Ibrahim 28.......... The Light of the Lights Yaya Yosof 30.......... 7:37am Mark Guven 31........... Stainless Watch Enrico Sibour 32.......... Narciso Desnudo Ennio Bollici ( Part 2 of 2) 34.......... Fly to Dubai Yaya Yosof 36.......... Istanbul Mark Guven 37........... Alone & Quiet Enrico Sibour 38.......... A Bat & A Hat Mark Guven 40.......... The Bridge on Blue River Nile in Khartoum Yaya Yosof 42.......... Literature & Mind Nidhal Al Jibouri 44.......... This is From My Life Nidhal Al Jibouri 45.......... My Name Sarah Bopape 46.......... The Rainforest Helmut Ogbeni

English PEN Readers & Writers Volume 01

The Light of the Lights

Writers Introduction Mark Guven, Helmut Ogbeni, Nadia Ibrahim, Nidhal Al Jibouri & Yaya Yosof
Welcome to The Light of the Lights a little book of writing from our English PEN creative writing and reading workshops at the Migrants Resource Centre in London. This is the delivery of our backgrounds. We wanted to show you what its like for us. The immigrant experience has been pigeonholed for a long time. We hope this is a welcome contribution because we have things to give. After eight weeks of writing at the Migrants Resource Centre, we have been challenged to write by Miriam Halahmy and her guests, Daljit Nagra and Esther Freud. This project has brought out, in different ways, the different sides of us. Each person has been able to express themselves. Creativity. The Hidden Intention. Capabilities to write have been triggered. Stimulated. Skilfulness. We have told of different backgrounds, using words in different ways. Workshops like this can unite the divided. We came from different backgrounds, different religions, different societies, and we wrote together. We hope this project can reach more and more people. This little book is full of birds and lizards. It is a rainforest. A city of many faces. It is a collection of poems, short stories, the beginning of a screenplay. Esther Freud asked us to write about our name. This is the book of our names. Esther showed us to be truthful and ruthless. As Alessandra writes in her poem: I am teaching you to disobey/ Whispering with you / I do believe in fairies, I do/ We do. Who will listen to me? This is sometimes in our minds. The workshop group listened. One person wrote a poem about not liking her name. Now, she likes her name again. The lights disappeared in the city, but they came together in one voice. This, then, is our voice for now.

Finding Your Voice Daljit Nagra

I think one of the most important outcomes of creative writing is to give yourself a voice that finds crafted expression on the page. As someone from a minority community, I felt it even more urgent to speak about myself coming from a distinct, little known community that resides in some pocket of England. I hope other new writers will consider their work as news or a despatch from a particular world. This does not mean they carry the burden of representing their world because although they will be seen as being part of a background, the peculiarity of their creative act can help them transcend the confining labels.

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Setting Foot in Words Miriam Halahmy


Running workshops with writers from different countries brings a special depth and range of richness to the work. In our workshops at the Migrants Resource Centre in Westminster (MRC) we have been given an insight into other worlds from a village beside a desert river to a home on the edge of the African rain forest. All of our writers have experienced something of life in London but their writing in our workshops has gone far beyond Londons vibrant streets, to physical and emotional landscapes reflected in the writing in this booklet. Ultimately the writing is about exploring themselves as Chesterton comments opposite. It is always a challenge to begin working with a new group, learning names, encouraging the shy to speak up/read out their work, providing the right level of inspiration and feedback. Working with this group at the MRC has been truly inspirational. We have covered poetry, life writing and fiction; we have discussed the meaning of landscape, told anecdotes which will be rich seams to mine in the future, heard Arabic sayings and helped to translate work from French. Our group of writers settled in so quickly that by the third week everyone was writing original work and reading back with confidence, in a language which was not their mother tongue: English. It was clear that this was a group who wanted to take every advantage of the opportunity our workshops provided. The participants also had to read and discuss two published works in preparation for meeting our guest authors and they rose to the challenge beautifully. It has been my privilege to lead these workshops. I have learnt a great deal about the lives and struggles of our participants and I feel I have had a real opportunity to engage with their work. I wish all of the participants every success in the future and Happy Writing!

The whole objecT of wriTing is noT To seT fooT on foreign land; iT is aT lasT To seT fooT on ones own self as foreign land
G.K. Chesterton
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Duty is Not an Exact Science. Now, Lets Laugh at Swiss Chicken Over a Beer, Dad. Alessandra Pirovano
Was a meek clown Begging my daily prayer Tell me Father your dreams. Please tell me how they faded On the terrace of your life. Tell me the cold days Of your disheartened childhood, The stove of your imagination Warming your Elsewheres. Saw the blade of your white bones, Saw the water of a puddle in your cup, Humiliated mirror of your frail mutiny. Open your eyes on your demure talent, Cry now your discontent if you want. As a good mother, I am teaching you to disobey, Whispering with you I do believe in Fairies, I do, We do.

Narciso Desnudo Ennio Bollici

A sample taken from Narciso Desnudo (Part 1 of 2)

Rome seafront. End of summer. A stunning girls body laid on the sand, next to the shore. Dawn light. Her lips are bleeding, her mouth is wounded, her eyes half-shut: she seems to be sleeping. Opera Theatre, Rome. More than twenty years before. Actors are on stage, greeting the audience after performing King Oedipus. The audience is giving them a well deserved tribute. The most applauded among them all is a young actress, Laura, playing Giocasta, Oedipuss mother. Lauras family is sitting on the first line. Her husband, Carlo, army major general, looks at her, annoyed. Andrea, their five year old son, happily greets Laura even though he does not have a clue about what is happening. It is the last performance of Lauras career. After a violent argument with her despotic husband, she has been reluctantly forced to quit acting, in order to give into Carlos selfish desire to look after Andrea. Carlo has already forecasted a rich and successful life for his son. He educates Andrea on a strictly regime, as if he was one of his soldiers rather than his son. Andreas childhood is spent following a severe discipline, dividing his days between school and gym with almost no social gathering at all, in order to accomplish Carlos design of Andreas life. Laura simply feeds him, taking no part in his education and growing, carefully avoiding to pass on her passion for acting in order not to argue with Carlo.
Continues on page 32

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Pay Day Ennio Bollici


The opening extract from a screenplay

This is a Poem About a Country I Love Nidhal Al Jibouri


This is a poem about a country I love I write as if I look at the stars above Homes, people and love they destroyed The children, the sun, and the scenery they all enjoyed. They killed, they fight. People suffered, they did not care. Children sitting there, Not knowing what to do, holding hands in fear Looking away, my eyes begin to tear We are all going mad. About this country we all loved... Baghdad My dear Baghdad try your best to heal Can we make this deal? My hope, my dream is to see my country beautiful again Even if Baghdad does not heal You will always be in my heart, Children playing, people laughing, Again it will start.

London, Somewhere in the City A normal Friday morning, rainy day. A tall building. Through one of its numerous windows a man can be seen working in his office. The room is small, rather cluttered, financial newspapers and books are all over the floor. His secretary, Kelly, a blonde lady with green eyes and dressed in a grey suit, is typing a letter sitting just behind him. His name is Peter, 40 years old, a tall man with dark hair and dark eyes. He works as a broker for a financial company. He is very busy, sitting at his desk working on his computer while he dials a number on the phone. He is trading stock options and funds as usual. Calcutta, India Same day, the sky is cloudy and the air is muggy. The streets are crowded and dusty. Bicycles and old, half destroyed cars can be seen around. Nearby there is a street market, merchants are shouting to promote their products fruits, meats, clothes. Behind the market, there is a ruined building. A part of the wall is fallen down. Above the front door there is a label almost unreadable which says Duff Lawrence LTD. It is a company which has a factory in the building to produce elegant shirts to sell in shops all over the world. Inside the factory it is rather dark, the machines are not well-maintained, everything is untidy. There are around 20 people working in there, most of which are children, like Iqbal. He is only 10 years old, very thin, almost skeletal, his bones appear to be seen through his olive skin. He works 6 days a week, 10 hours a day. His very poor family needs him to work in order to be able to survive. He cuts and sews fabric all day long, and does the same repetitive job day by day, only with half an hour break for lunch. He does not know what sick pay and paid holidays are, if he knows what holidays are at all.

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My Name Jojo Nganga


My name is Jojo and my family name is Nganga. Everyone says that they like my name because it sounds good. In my country the name that starts with a letter J means something good jolie, it means beautiful. A few weeks ago I read the meaning of my name in the dictionary and it said that Jojo is something bad a little Horror or monster. But I remember when I was a child I asked my Mum, why did they give me this name Jojo, and what did it mean and she told me they gave me this name because I was born in a happy time and I was special too. Also in my family they say my name means happiness and beauty. And Jojo is an abbreviation of Jonathan. The meaning of the name Jonathan is: Jehovah has given. In the Bible, Jonathan son of King Saul was noted for manliness, generosity and unselfishness. He saved Davids life when Saul would have killed him. My family name in my country means someone who does magic. This name was originally the name of my Dad and the name of his Dad. My grandfather was in medicine.

i reTurn from a disTanT journey To see / you are no more / i siT on The grass and feel The empTiness
The Rainforest Helmut Ogbeni (p.46)

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We Temples Build Emily* Said Alessandra Pirovano


My name is Calvero. That old, freaky, sentimental clown you believed was dead. Old days in alcoholic ire, burnt case life. Cest Moi! The flawed piece, the disobedience virus. You vile all around the swamp, So close I can smell the formaldehyde in your spittle. Hey you, flaccid brains, Yellow eyes in your KKK hoods, Rosaries in your hands, every bead a clotted blood drop. You never reached me on your Old Testament pick ups, My legs and brain toned and promiscuous. Innocence bores you, unbearable is the canto. Silence can paralyse you. Voracious you devour the time and the man, Burping proudly your fatal and rancorous ignorance. Your arrogant carcasses will precipitate into the fault With the stink of your vomit. I stopped running in a quiet dusk of a hellish day, Began to build my temple.
* Emily Dickinson

Remember Then Sarah Bopape


I remember now My first day at University With dad by my side Now I know Its a day never to be forgotten I remember now Walking to church every Friday night and Sunday morning As new days unfolded Now I know God saw me through I remember now Being part of different cultures, races and languages Beyond my village Now I know My todays are I remember now The green, flowery, Sunnyside garden My wonderful friends Now I know Will always be a special part of me I remember now It feels so much like now Now I know Hence I say I remember then.

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Paradise Lost Ennio Bollici


An excerpt from Paradise Lost

Kwenadi Sarah Bopape


She is a work of art A smile she possesses Lights up a room She is, most say genius We know Hard work, endurance and determination is she She is a dove Peace she leaves Love she is.

On thicker sands, many years later / we sealed our uncertain love Our shy hands hesitate at first / running closer yet far from each other Your ivory fingers moved towards mine / one inch only left our hearts disjointed For moments and minutes and then endlessly infinite hours Before a sun blessed kiss gave us birth / Paradise was June whispering your name Then a storm came, washing the summer away, the wind howled and cried your farewell My soul a vessel, sank into abyss of fear and deception / desert mantled my speechless heart Cold waters river-flood my veins Autumn leaves fell as curtains over pain and regrets / obsession guided me blind across snowflakes and peach trees in bloom / fading into shiny sunflowers A new Fall showed me the road to Oblivion / heading towards the rainy island Thousands of miles away from blue skies and olive trees Thousands of miles away from your cherry lips / sheltered by oaks and primroses Moonlight shines on the green grass carpet for squirrels and foxes night dances A tender rain sprinkles the silent cloudy night the dim street light calls me / I step outside, hush all over Paradise is a soaked coat / Paradise is rain walking with me to the dawn Paradise is your smile vanished and dissolved into darkness.
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My Name Esther Freud

Tell me The cold days/ of your dishearTened childhood,/ The sTove of your imaginaTion/ warming your elsewheres
Duty is Not an Exact Science Alessandra Pirovano (p.10)
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My name is bigger than me. It travels ahead. Freud. So serious. But in fact the meaning of it is joy. When I was a child visiting my father in London, for lack of any childish things to do, wed look up other Freuds in the phone book and wed call them, at least my father would, ask if they were related to Lucian, the painter. The other Freuds were shocked. Absolutely not, theyd say, and wed giggle, naughty, anarchic and then wed walk down to the shop where wed buy cheese and chocolate and peaches and make a picnic tea. Freud makes a strong brown shape, like a sofa. Its a solid name. Full of history. Ive never been able to say the r of it clearly, even after years of drama school exercises, so that sometimes people mishear me, and the name being so unfamiliar to most British ears they cant catch it not on its own. Forehead? Someone once asked. And so I spell it, and they say it back. Frood. I dont usually bother to correct them. But its different in Europe. As soon as I step off the Eurostar my name is recognised. Passport officials want to chat. A dry cleaner in Rome spilled out all his problems. My mother could have given us her own name, but she took my fathers for us and herself too and wears it lightly or sometimes not at all, so that it still looks new and glamorous on an envelope, whereas mine is as old as the hills.

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English PEN Readers & Writers Volume 01

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Oh Father Ibreem Yaya Yosof


I remember you when you open the door In the early morning, The smell of Jasmines, Amreyhanis, Foul and mixed followers Rushed out the door To wash my face With their fresh and gorgeous smell That ever explained I remember when you when Tiwraat Jannee bird Knocked on my door With lovely songs Songs of prayers I learned to pray From your prayers I remember when you with your Jalabiyaa Imamaa Syrwaal Markoob and Sybhaa Loloob on your mat For Jumma. I remember when you when you open the door In the early morning, The smell of Jasmines, Amreyhanis, Foul and mixed followers Rushed the door out To wash my face With their fresh and gorgeous smell That ever explained I remember you Dad. I remember you Abbooy.
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The fruiT of The flowers goes To Those who never planTed Them
My Rose, My Cause of Pain Nadia Ibrahim (p.27)

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Far Away From Native Shores Mark Guven


She is the truest spirit of nature Giver, lover, carer, thinker a woman, Beacon of purity, she shines with brilliance Clear as rain, fairer than wind, happiest of all. He is a traveller, must explore further Eyes firm on horizon, charging in even deeper, Dignity intact, embracing grave uncertainties Adventurous and perilous are his turbulent seas. He is gone now for good, she knows not why Died at sea whisper ghosts, her with a cry Try oh why must we try when souls are so far apart Such is the nature of love, no rules or borders behind.

The Blue Dress Enrico Sibour


The sunny light comes in with me and shuts outside when I close the door, like the far waves roar under the wind. I stay, shoulders against the wall, from the window only the eucalyptis silver shadow in the courtyard. White grey walls and in the middle you, still proud and demanding, possibly more now when you lay above the marble table, already wearing your last, as usual, beautiful dress, now only covering your tall body. My back still glued to the glossy cold paint, I stare at your soft curly white hair: Maria told us you just went to Carlo il parrucchiere two days ago. There is some mould in the corner and I notice the humid air and some drop on the marbles moulding edge.

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My Rose, My Cause of Pain Nadia Ibrahim

The bridge on river blue in KharToum Knows all The people walKing on iT everyday by Their names
The Bridge on Blue River Nile Yaya Yosof (p.40)

The face is creased The back is bent The breath is slow The heart is broken To her coat she seeks refuge Looking for warmth From the cold weather And the coldness of ungratefulness The burning tears fell On her frozen cheeks The tears dug canals of pain The more the pain increases The fuller the canals become Oh! Lord! She asked What have I done? In my garden I planted roses I watered them from my heart I bore the pains in my thumbs The roses now took their full beauty Catching the eyes and the sense by their stunning look and amazing smell. I stretched my neck to smell their odour But they sent me a spike in the eye Oh! What is the matter with you my lovely roses? They answered me: Dont you know The fruit of the flowers goes to those who never planted them? To her coat she returned seeking refuge Looking for warmth From the cold weather and the coldness of ungratefulness.
I dedicate this poem to all those lovely elderly people who are forgotten by their beloved ones.

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The Light of the Lights Yaya Yosof


I adhere the light, and the light of all lights One day of 17th of July The moon was full Complete The clouds washing the moon face I sat on the balcony watching, Wondering I adhere the light and the light of all lights A face coming from, in between the moon It is the light behind the moon Covering the moon the sky coming to worth me it is the touch I ever love it is the drink I ever had honey mixed fruit juice that ever explained paradise river drink I adhere the light and the light of all lights the light from the heart of all lights I adhere that light Of all lights On that night And all nights Oh that light of original light My aim is the light My soul is the light
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Shoo Shoo Shoo I tell you the secret of life My son If you want to see that light Of all lights dont sleep all night Wait for the light All life Soon come the light You drink a cup of your... of your life I adhere the light and the light of all lights.

English PEN Readers & Writers Volume 01

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7:37am Mark Guven


No, they arent stingy slivers these. Am talking extra-thick, juicy slices of mature cheddar eagerly awaiting their turn to be placed in-between ham and bread. Toaster coughs up its four slices impatiently, under-done as usual but at least its not complaining this morning. Tabasco, Worcestershire, Lemon and no booze, all go into a large glass of tomato juice, fresh oregano on top and stirred gently with innocent excitement. Like kids sliding down a waterslide on a perfect, sunny day...where did they go, what has become of them? Ones a doctor, ones a patient and the other? How easy it was to just pop out for no rhyme or reason. Need another glass of this juice now, I think.

Stainless Watch Enrico Sibour


I have to remember, if not it stops. It recalls me, the old shop with the noisy tram passing by, the shiny creamy windows full with bright watches and necklaces. I dont have to remember, it doesnt fear water. It recalls me, him, young, coming back to his old work place, to buy the first proper one for the sons. Coming back with the memories. I have to remember, under the sun after some time is hurt. It recalls me, the narrow severe street every morning, the sense of pride when the day after I came back to school, I feel the wrist, heavier than usual.

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Narciso Desnudo Ennio Bollici


A sample taken from Narciso Desnudo (Part 2 of 2)

The man is Andreas father. That vision distresses and shocks Andrea more and more. He leaves the villa straight away, he gets into his car and drives it faster and faster. Childhood memories come to his devastated mind while riding the car. After a long stroll around the whole city he stops in an elegant bar. He sits next to the bar, drinking many shots of whiskey. A blonde girl approaches him; she is very attractive and even though he is almost drunk and wasted, Andrea is attracted by her. He invites her to have a ride in his car, towards the seaside. They arrive there and go to the beach. Andreas expression is crazy and insane but the girl does not pay attention to his state of mind, thinking that he is just drunk as she is not aware of what is going on in his mind. Andrea takes out some cocaine, handing her a sniff after he has some. She takes it too and they seem to have fun and enjoy their time together but, all at a sudden, Andrea, in a hallucinatory delirium sees in that girls face his fathers. He tries to kill her by strangling her but she manages to defend herself from his attack, beating him with a stone on his forehead. Andrea reacts, punching her face. She collapses on the sand bleeding all over the face. Andrea realises he has killed her. He stands up; he is desperate and mad. He keeps walking on the shore, crying and shouting his fathers name, then he falls down exhausted on the sand. He will wake a while after in a bed of a mental hospital in which he has been secluded after being claimed guilty for the girls death. Actually, the autopsy revealed that the girl died due to a cardiovascular stroke caused by the cocaine but that does not change Andreas fate at all. Laura, Andreas mother, kills herself as she could not stand what happened to Andrea. Carlo, after having left the army, is used to spending time secluded in his house, dwelling over and regretting the past, about the good times they all had before tragedy came to their life.

such is The naTure of love, no rules or borders behind


Far Away From Native Shores Mark Guven (p.24)

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Fly to Dubai Yaya Yosof


I remember that you told them, You are flying to Dubai tonight I dont remember that you told me, Darling, Why? But you can go I remember when you wake up that morning, Left me without hope, cold, colourless and old Just you left the bed early like the bird needs the sky I dont remember you finishing your morning tea, That is your Cup, cakes and... I guess youre in a hurry I remember you left without a farewell I dont remember where and when The tickets being booked? The decisions being made? It is not fair! But you can go You can go to Dubai Even if you dont say I remember the colour of the lovely eye I dont remember when the plan left I remember you wearing blue in black Your suitcase hidden in the corner And the tie Tell me... tell me why I remember your soft and pink touch on my shoulder I love your quick turn and the blink eye Next touch and I will die I dont remember that you said to me Youre coming back When, where and what plan? Just come! Dry my river eye.

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Istanbul Mark Guven


I remember now, the city of many faces Where lots have lived, rejoiced and passed Glitters and tears, hugs and smiles East to West, rich to poor, left to right. Ships whistle at one another, Seagulls joyful too Weaving between continents, islands, time Across civilisations, palaces, mosques and dew. Now time stands still, crumbs become seeds Se Yek utters wrinkled uncle, time for fresh teas Dice floats on tobacco clouds, young respect old All in harmony still I hope in the city of gold.

Alone & Quiet Enrico Sibour


Alone and quiet The butters smell from the pan on the low fire, chopping onions finely and precisely. Tears on your cheeks skin and the sound of the knife on the wooden board stops when the frying butter calls: the chopped onions come sizzling into the pan. You lower the fire and look after the pan, beside, until you find the lid from the shelf. Now some time to rest: is everything ready? your eyes ask, looking around. The rice, the boiling stockthe salt pot not far Wait, wait: add some salt and verify, fry gently. A half glass of white wine, you put the fire on high, wait for it to evaporate, you light a cigarette and pour some wine for yourself in the glass you keep in the cupboard, beside the rice fabric bag. And you sip slowly, put the ashtray near the sink, smoke. The friends chat arrives deadened from the drawing room, you savour these minutes alone, recap some old memories, as you do always, beside the sink, leaning against the fridge.

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A Bat & A Hat Mark Guven


Vast majority of my childhood memories took place in the city where I played, won, lost, tried to share, and not even once felt like the fun was enough! So it was always pitch-black when I went home to eat and rest. As children, I find theres a constant battle in our minds between homework and play, and I wouldnt be surprised at all if the roots of my current procrastination lie there. It was a fine day in May. Arrived home and got changed with lightning-speed. Mum was at work as usual, left stuffed peppers in the fridge. How classic! I thought, and had them cold in a fed-up state. Key around my neck, trainers on and slam! Outside so peaceful, suns up still, gentle breeze, wondering where all the other boys were... They were in constant competition these two grocery shops nearby my apartment block. Muhtar and Sefer. Something about Muhtar was putting me off though so I was always finding myself in Sefers place. He had a normal moustache, bald head, small black eyes, and his belly was always hanging out. I remember trying to climb up onto his counter to catch a glimpse of his face. He always wore a white sleeveless vest and some brownish trousers. Everything about him was hugely intriguing: the puzzling, glib conversations between adults in his shop, the strong oaky smell, messy display, dim parts at the back. And most importantly, he always sold new plastic balls! Was such a pleasure to down endless bottles of pasteurised milk in front of his shop after a game. Mostly, younger kids would start playing immediately when we left the street or the parking lot as theyd been waiting in anticipation. Hard not to miss that chaos. Up for a different game? I asked. Well, I knew none of my boys would ever turn down an offer like that so it was a no-brainer. Couple of them went yay!, and bang!, the ball was away again. Was kind of similar to baseball this simple game but without the running around, yet still very ostentatious and no longer than half an hour at a time. A kid standing about twenty metres away was kicking a ball towards me and I was hitting it really hard with a thick wooden stick, using mostly a dead branch of a tree. The ball would travel higher than some buildings up in the sky and was followed by a wow! from other kids and adults alike. Much more
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fun than staying in and also cramming in, I thought. With every single hit, I was lighter, closer and certainly freer. Once again, brought back down by the small cheering crowd, familiar faces, my numbed senses... One moment in time that was, enjoying little glimpses of limitless joy among tall apartment blocks in that fast urbanising city of eighties Istanbul.

wiTh every single hiT, i was lighTer, closer and cerTainly freer

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The Bridge on Blue River Nile in Khartoum Yaya Yosof


The bridge on River Blue in Khartoum Knows all the people walking on it everyday By their names. I walked on it everyday on my way to school To teach People walk on it everyday Going to work Going to market Children going to school Laughing and talking But no one thinks about the bridge. When the river overflows In harvest time And floods the bridge With torrents of water Everybody runs away Looking for places to take shelter The bridge faces the danger alone. The last time I crossed the bridge When I was running away From my land forever With my friends At night, in darkness All very frightened But with hope in our hearts For a safe world Every thing is quiet...suddenly A Fireyy bird fiiiif fiiir frrrr flying Frogs stop crying Al vidah, Al vidah. Leaving behind my bridge on the Blue River Nile in Khartoum Danger was everywhere It settled there for a long, long time. Run... run... run... Come, come, pass quickly... shouted one man shshshshshsh... They will hear you Quiet, quiet, be very quiet Whispered the bridge

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The Light of the Lights

Literature & Mind Nidhal Al Jibouri


My experience as English teacher together with a degree in English literature from my country made me feel that literature is very important in peoples lives. This is because it develops enjoyment and commitment to learning as a means of encouraging an attainment for all. It expands their essential learning skills of literacy and information. Most of us know literature is important to building personality. I will never forget what I learnt from Shakespeare and his plays and the proverbs and wisdoms, or Jane Eyre, the great novel for Charlotte Bront. Scientists believe that writing at a young age builds the childs mind and character. I remember one day my brother was teasing that his job is much more important than mine because he is an engineer and I am only an English teacher. My father overheard the conversation, so he was the one that answered my brother by saying if you develop buildings, she develops human minds. I respect my father for this idea that means I am not alone in my opinion about literature. Writing a poem or a story enables us to craft a lot from our life and our suffering. When I wrote a poem about my name which showed how I suffered from my name I put my suffering in a poem to express what had happened in my life and how I struggled. Or when I wrote a poem about Baghdad my capital that means I know Baghdad passed in bad days from killing and kidnapping, which made me feel sad about what is going on there. By writing you also reject what has happened to the innocent people, and this gives you rest because you express this in writing and take a deep breath. So carry on writing. It may be that while you are writing you will find a solution to your problems or you will get rid of your worries. Writing also gives you inspiration to write more. Writing is not just my favourite hobby but it is also an important factor in every persons life. Where the world is now, is because of reading and writing and the discoveries yet to come also through reading and writing. Writing is vital to communicating with others in the wider world, and is a fundamental way to learn how to participate in society and employment. Any one can learn to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and communicate with others confidently and effectively. Literature in English is rich and influential. It reflects the experiences of people from many countries and times and contributes to our sense of cultural identity. We learn to become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama as well as non-fiction, gaining access to the pleasure and world of knowledge that reading offers.

wriTing gives you inspiraTion To wriTe more

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English PEN Readers & Writers Volume 01

The Light of the Lights

This is From My life Nidhal Al Jibouri


Struggle is the meaning of my name This life is what I call a game We all have to go through pain As the world chases to nothing but fame I have been through a lot to get to this place I put on smile to hide my sad face There are plenty of bad memories I want to erase And have them gone without a trace.

My Name Sarah Bopape


Sarah, what a boring and common name; I used to think. Worst of all, as simple and common as it is, its almost always mispelled and mispronounced. My one is an English name not whatever language, I always have to say. I kinda hate the name but still find myself using it. I guess cause its easier for everyone or maybe the meaning behind it. Or maybe its because with my African name I have to spell it in all occasions and everyone will ask me the meaning and if I tell them it doesnt have one, which is true, theyd all say Im lying cause all African names have meanings why wouldnt mine have. To spare me all that Ill use my almost always mispelled and mispronounced, simple and common name. It has so much in it though. Its kinda bright, joyous, motherly, holy, royal, strong and life itself. My mum took so much pride in the name. It could be because it was her adorable aunts. Never asked her why. Perhaps it doesnt really matter but I wouldnt dare call any of my children Sarah.

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English PEN Readers & Writers Volume 01

The Light of the Lights

The Rainforest Helmut Ogbeni


The thoughts still remain with me The rainforest of yesteryears I remember the sun rising above the trees And casting a pattern on the forest floor Which resembles a green sea Stinging plants and butterflies all around me The sweet smell of wild fruits guava, mango, Palm nuts, all mixed with those of flowers, Haliconia, wild roses and orchids The gentle breeze triggers a rustle through the forest Colourful birds and agama lizards on tree trunks I return from a distant journey to see You are no more I sit on the grass and feel the emptiness of the peace And space thats been Hiding inside of you I scatter your seeds all around me while I make a wish for you As owls, cicadas and crickets welcome the coming night.

i remember now, The ciTy of many faces


Istanbul Mark Guven (p.36)

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The Light of the Lights From Readers & Writers the literature development programme of English PEN. Edited by Mark Guven, Yaya Yosof, Nadia Ibrahim, Nadhal Al Jibouri, Helmut Ogbeni, Enrico Sibour, Ennio Bollici and Philip Cowell. The English Centre of International PEN, the worldwide association of writers, exists to uphold the values of literature, literacy and freedom of expression. The first PEN club was founded in London in 1921 to promote intellectual co-operation and understanding among writers, to create a world community of writers that would emphasise the central role of literature in the development of world culture, and to defend literature against the modern worlds threats to its survival. Readers & Writers is English PENs literature development programme which brings these international values home to London in the form of creative writing workshops for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. The programme of workshops, out of which this book comes, was supported through the 2012 London Cultural Skills Fund, funded by the London Development Agency and managed by Arts Council England. English PEN is a company limited by guarantee, number 5747142, and a registered charity, number 1125610