Stories of each other: do we care? [London, June 22]

From 19:00 CET on Wednesday the 22nd June 2016, Free Word, in association with Counterpoints Arts and Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants, will present an evening looking at tales of human journeys and the personal experiences behind these journeys.

This event will take place at 60 Farringdon Road, Clerkwell, London and there are links to the online reservation portal below. This evening will also comprise a debate (more info below), which will be live streamed, with a video embedded on the Time to Talk home page.

Photo by Mustafa Khayet,

About the evening:

On the eve of the UK ‘s referendum on continued EU membership, come hear from writers, poets and newly arrived communities about the experience of leaving home and what happens when we arrive in a new place.

Hear stories from across decades and from all around the world, as writers from Iraq to Sri Lanka, Ethiopia to Iran and many nations in-between recount their experiences. Hear readings which uncover the realities of those fleeing conflict, poverty or terror. Listen to tales that build empathy, community and understanding. And, join Inua Ellams, Jan Krasnowolski, Deborah Levy, Marina Lewycka, Kamila Shamsie and many more, to understand the countless experiences of migration.

The evening will feature readings of fiction and poetry, alongside spoken word performances, music and artwork. There will also be a panel discussion with writers and representatives of grassroots refugee and migrant organisations. And, books from all of the evening’s speakers will be on sale, including guest sales of Modern Poetry in Translation‘s special The Great Flight edition and a sample of Islington Library’s book collection of Stories from New Places; all of which will also be available in Islington Libraries throughout Refugee Week(20th-26th June).Furthermore, Free Word is delighted to welcome an extraordinary cast of celebrated writers and poets including:

Jan Krasnowolski
Thierry Lawson
Sarah Ardizzone
Kamila Shamsie
Deborah Levy
Inua Ellams
Lucy Popescu
Sulaiman Addonia
Marina Lewycka
Alireza Abiz
Shash Trevett
Selina Nwulu
Sufiya Ahmed
Sita Bramachari
Choman Hardi
Nineb Lamssu
Minna Salami

Expanded speaker bibliographies for all participants can be accessed by clicking here.

What role can creative expression play in the migration debate?

As part of the aforementioned evening, Free Word will host a discussion about the role which literature and creative expression can play in providing individuals with a voice. The discussion will aim to start at around 20:15 CET and will be live streamed, with a video of the live streaming appearing on the TTT homepage on the evening of the 22nd June.

About the debate:

This debate will seek to cast a light on how literature is both influenced by émigré authors’ backgrounds and provides them with the means to express the crossovers and conflicts between those backgrounds and the lives they now lead.

In the course of this discussion, the speakers will be asked to explore their relationships with the British media environment, considering how this has impacted upon them both personally and professionally and to what extent their work gives them the opportunity to respond to emotive narratives on migratory themes.

Rita Chadha will also talk to us about the political reality of the situation locally and the complexities facing refugees and migrants. Join us then (in London or online) at c.20:15 CET as we ask how artistic responses can help provide insight and perspective in the face of intolerance and cynicism, helping to counterbalance a reemergent rhetoric of prejudice with empathy and understanding.

Click here to find out how to reserve your place at this debate and the other activities comprising Stories of each other.

Alternatively, click here to find out more about the live stream of this event.


Sulaiman S.M.Y. Addonia is an author of mixed Eritrean/Ethiopian heritage, who lives and works in London

Rita Chadha is the chief executive of the Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London [RAMFEL]

Jan Krasnowolski is a Polish writer, essayist and translator, resident in Bournemouth.


Lucy Popescu is a writer, editor and arts critic, who has recently edited an anthology entitled A Country of Refuge, which looks at what it really means to be a refugee

Unravelling Europe & Refugee Week:

This event is both a fundraising event occurring as part of Refugee Week 2016and an event in Free Word’s Unravelling Europe series.

The Unravelling Europe series recognises that increasing societal fragmentation, fuelled by anxiety and fear, threatens the very conditions and values that underpin our open, democratic societies and looks to put artists at the heart of discussions which set out to ask: why is this so, what are the consequences and how might we act to counter them?

To find out more about Unravelling Europe and the series of events which it comprises, visit Free Word at:

Live stream:

This evening’s panel discussion will be live streamed, with a stream appearingon the Time to Talk homepage on the evening of the debate. Alerts and further information about the live stream will be made available via our Facebook andTwitter accounts. Online audiences are encouraged to get involved with the discussion and to interact with this live stream by tweeting #FWEurope@FreeWordCentre during the course of the evening.


Tickets to this fundraising event can be acquired for £15. All ticket proceeds from this fundraising event will go towards financing creative writing workshops at the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. Click here to proceed to the booking portal.

Event series:

This debate takes place with the support of the European Union’s Europe for Citizens Programme and is one debate of many taking place as part of an international series of debates on the same themes in cities around Europe, including Barcelona, Bratislava, Brussels, London, Sofia and Warsaw.


Time to Talk is a young and vibrant network of European centres of debate dedicated to stimulating discussion on the key socio-political themes of the day. Established in 2011, Time to Talk has expanded to offer debates from 15 institutions in 12 different countries.