Derby Poetry Festival Sanctuary Creative Writing Event
The Sanctuary creative writing project ran for three months in Derby, Nottingham and Leicester and was organised by Writing East Midlands and City of Sanctuary.
Poems, stories and pieces of writing were created by refugees and asylum seekers in safe, creative spaces across these three cities of sanctuary and gathered into a special anthology published under the title “Riding on Solomon’s carpet” . Many of the poems in the anthology were shared along with food and friendship at a special celebration in the Guildhall for Derby Poetry Festival at the end of last year.

What stood out from the writers was their unity and positivity. Many were still suffering from unimaginable trauma and were still coping with the aftermath of that on top of waiting for an asylum decision, juggling family life, housing worries, medical problems and endless forms to fill in in a language that wasn’t their own – and yet their drive to come in to a safe space and work on the task, support each other, try new things and share what they’d written was such a force for good.

The Derby group was made up of people from around the world of different religions, backgrounds and cultures. Rather than differences dividing them, there was much more a feeling that each person brought something special to the space and each view point was valued.

As the winter rain came down outside, inside people shared their stories: their love, their pain, and everything in between – the power of words.
If anyone had any doubts, this was all you needed to show that borders don’t mean anything when you remember that we’re all human with so many gifts to offer.

Here are a few pictures from the launch day.


One of the authors reading her poem

Kevin Feagan, one of the workshop leaders, talks to contributors