The plight of refugees is not a new phenomenon, yet global crises still persist.
Join us for an evening of poetry and discussion considering the lessons of Virgil’s Aeneid in the context of contemporary refugee emergencies. Virgil’s legendary Aeneid is an epic Latin poem written between 29 and 19 BC. It charts the story of Aeneas who fled from Troy, a city under siege in the East, and forged his way across the Mediterranean in search of safety. On arrival, Aeneas, and all those escaping the war are faced with a hostile rejection that breeds bitterness, resentment and conflict towards the refugees. Over two centuries later, similar narratives can be found today. What lessons can Virgil’s Aeneid teach us about fleeing, hope and resilience?
Hear from contemporary poets, activists and community organisers who will share stories about refugees experiences throughout the ages, shine a light on current grassroots support initiatives, and consider lessons for the future.
Nick Makoha (poet)
Laura Hanna (actor)
Edith Hall (writer and academic)
Laila Sumpton (poet and educator)
Laila Sumpton (poet and educator)
The Founder of Obsidian, Nick Makoha is a Ugandan poet and playwright and based in London. His debut Kingdom of Gravity was shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize and nominated by The Guardian as one of the best books of 2017. A Cave Canem Graduate Fellow and Complete Works Alumni. He won the 2015 Brunel prize and 2016 Derricotte & Eady Prize for his pamphlet Resurrection Man. He was the 2019 Writer-in-Residence for The Wordsworth Trust and Wasafiri. His play The Dark was directed by JMK award-winner Roy Alexander and shortlisted for the 2019 Alfred Fagon Award. He has been involved in TV marketing campaigns for Voices Nationwide: Celebrating Fatherhood and the Gillette, Being A Man digital campaign for The Southbank Centre. His poems appeared in The New York Times, Poetry Review, Rialto, Poetry London, Triquarterly Review, Boston Review, Callaloo, and Wasafiri.
Nick Makoha will be performing his own poetry at the event, reflecting on the migrant experience.
Laura Hanna's theatre credits include: Living Newspaper Edition 5 & A History of Water in the Middle East (Royal Court), Signal Fires (Fuel Theatre); KaraOkay & Give a Man a Bible (Bunker Theatre); Rest Upon the Wind (Oman tour); The Sweethearts, Perchance to Dream (Finborough); A Bright Room Called Day (Southwark); Foreplay (King’s Head); Still Life & Red Peppers (Old Red Lion); Lean (Tristan Bates); Beasts & Beauties (Hampstead).
Laura joins the event to bring to life excerpts of the Aeneid.
Edith is Professor in the Classics Department at King's College London. Her specialism is ancient Greek literature, but she enjoys putting the pleasure as well as the rigour into all aspects of ancient Greek and Roman history, society, and thought. Edith has now published thirty books, broadcasts frequently on radio and television, works as consultant with professional theatres, lectures all over the world, and publishes widely in academic and mainstream journals and newspapers. Edith has held posts at Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, Reading and Royal Holloway, and visiting positions at Notre Dame, Swarthmore, Northwestern, Leiden, and Erfurt.
Laila Sumpton is a poet, educator and performer working with schools, museums, galleries and hospitals on poetry projects for learners of all ages. She co-founded the refugee and migrants poetry group 'Bards Without Borders' who toured UK venues and is currently leading the Jesuit Refugee Services' 'Open Writing Space' for destitute asylum seekers. Laila works regularly with refugee arts organisation Counterpoints Arts to help communities explore exile and identity through poetry and has undertaken commissions for the Tate Modern on this theme. She is co-creating and producing a play called 'I am Leah' inspired by testimonies from the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda with 100 Stories and their scratch performance is on June 13th at the Peopleing the Palace festival. She was recently the Keats House Poet in residence where she investigated the colonial history of collections for her project 'Poetry Versus Colonialism.' Laila's collection 'The Stampless' is due to be published with Arachne Press next year.
In association with Dash Arts.
Running time: 90 mins, no interval
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