A brand new UK tour of poetry & performance – from Lydia Towsey, Shruti Chauhan and Jean Binta Breeze MBE


QUOTAS / LYDIA TOWSEY / #WhosYourNeighbour?

In response to the UN refugee agency’s recent suggestion that Britain will take a further 4,000 Syrian refugees from camps in the Middle East.

If you’d like to get involved, please tweet us @3HardWayPoets along with the hashtag #WhosYourNeighbour – with a link to a responding work as text and/or as a recorded reading. For full details on the campaign see here.



If it is to be four thousand of the most deserving,
four thousand of the most deserving
of the four million currently displaced;
a thousand in a million
of the four million currently camping
in Jordan and in Lebanon –
so, one in a thousand;
one in a thousand
of the four million Syrians –
though not the Afghans or Iraqis
and not the Africans, none of them.
If it’s to be these and only them;
these most deserving of the all deserving
filling up the camps – though not the ones
drowning in the sea or suffocating in the trucks;
not the ones crushed on the railroads;
not those babies carried through the night
or held at the stations, dehydrated, close to death.
If just these few – how shall we pick?
Will it be this woman who has lost her home?
Or this man who has lost his legs?
This child orphaned and frightened?
Or this elder, sightless and bent?
If we are to choose,
and make of our fences
a new and sturdy pearly gate,
who shall stand watch
at our new beginning?
Who will be Peter
manning a cannon?
Who will record
the ones not taken?
The children washed up
on the beaches
with flotsam.
Who will record them
as undeserving?
Who will save us
when history


Lydia Towsey


Poems for People: an Anthology in Solidarity with Refugees

poets in solidary pic

Poems for People: an Anthology in Solidarity with Refugees


To publish and promote an anthology of poems to raise awareness of issues faced by refugees and show solidarity. Funds raised over and above the anthology’s costs will go to charities supporting refugees. The anthology will be produced by an experienced editorial committee, typesetter and Five Leaves Publications who will not charge for their time and will be available in print and as an ebook. Proceeds from sales will go to registered charities supporting refugees both in the East Midlands and abroad.


At the suggestion of Ambrose Musiyiwa, we plan an East Midlands anthology of a hundred poems and pieces of micro-fiction in solidarity with the refugees who are currently receiving so little welcome as they take to boats and rafts to cross the Mediterranean, make their way with difficulty through Europe and, in a small number of cases, arrive in Calais with the hope of reaching the U.K. The aim of the anthology is to enable readers to take a view of the situation which is not governed by the fear and hatred whipped up by the language of media and many politicians. The anthology will be produced by an editorial committee, typesetter and publisher who will work free of charge. The anthology will be published by Five Leaves Publications in Nottingham, and will be available both in print and as an ebook.

Submission Guidelines:

Please submit no more than three pieces of work. If you submit work which has previously been published, please give details of where it has appeared. The editors would particularly welcome writing which sheds a new light on the refugee experience in some way, writing which is specific rather than general, and writing which is not unremittingly gloomy, harrowing or preachy. We hope for a variety of work and an anthology which will interest, engage and surprise readers.

Poems should be no more than 42 lines (and much shorter work is welcome). Micro fictions should be no more than 100 words. All work should be single-spaced. Please include a biography of 50 – 100 words.

All submitted work should be in English. In the case of translated work, it is the translator’s responsibility to obtain permission from the copyright-holder of the original work.

Please send your submissions, preferably by email to poetsinsolidarity101@gmail.com by midnight on 28 September 2015. Send all material in a single word attachment AND in the body of the email. If you do not have access to email, you may submit by sending two copies of each piece of work by mail to: Poets in Solidarity with Refugees, 36 Leybury Way, Scraptoft, Leicestershire LE7 9UB. In either case, remember to include your contact details.


Poets in Solidarity with Refugees is a group of writers, artists and literature promoters mostly based in the East Midlands who want to share and welcome stories from refugees fleeing war-torn countries. Poems and fiction for the anthology will be selected by an experienced editorial panel and backed by a promotional campaign.

AS IT WAS, STILL IT IS / MELLOW BAKU / #WhosYourNeighbour?

Many thanks to Mellow Baku for this #WhosYourNeighbour, Three the Hard Way contribution.

Mellow wrote the below piece in response to a photograph of World War Two, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu servicemen, shared on an anti ‘Britain First’ facebook forum with the caption: ‘Bloody Sikh, Hindu, Muslim Servicemen, coming over here, flying our spitfires, winning our wars… [sic]’. The picture, and Mellow’s posted poem in response were both subsequently removed by facebook for contravening their ‘community standards’. We’re very pleased to share the poem part here.

If you’d like to get involved by contributing a piece, please tweet us @3HardWayPoets along with the hashtag #WhosYourNeighbour – with a link to a responding work as text and/or as a recorded reading. For full details on the campaign see here.


As it was, still it is

Swarms of spongers
taking the piss?
While britain still plunders
As it was, it still is.

History forgotten
facts changed and normalised
In a land that is rotten
with blood of the colonised

For peace and wealth they come
For things the Empire took
from their foremothers and sons
(But you won’t read that in a book)

Sons of oppressors still complain
while enjoying what they can afford.
Beneficiaries of material gain
Spoils of making a mess abroad.

Swarms of spongers
taking the piss?
Sounds like the Empire
As it was, it still is.


Mellow Baku is a highly experienced singer-songwriter, jazz vocalist and vocal tutor, working across genres and performing internationally, including at: The Barbican and Southbank (London), The Knitting Factory (New York), North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland), BBC Live Events, Kings Place London & more. Jazz Saxophonist, Courtney Pine OBE hails her as ‘A new voice in British music, with an original blend of reggae soul and jazz. Superb voice, brilliant music, a must for all.’

Recent spoken word projects include touring alongside Zena Edwards, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze and SureShot (London Liming, Nottingham and Sheffield for TILT/Renaissance One/Melanie Abrahams, who also produced her recent show of spoken word and song ‘Music of My Mind’, Curve Theatre Leicester.)


It is with great pleasure that we share another wonderful poem, kindly contributed by brilliant writer, artist and social activist, Ambrose Musiyiwa.

Ambrose has written and campaigned eloquently on the subject of migration, most recently reflecting on the semantics of language – and the difference words and the meanings we ascribe to them can make in how things are thought about. See here.

A graduate in Law from the University of Leicester, Ambrose is the instigator of ‘Poets in Solidarity with Refugees’ and the recent idea to curate and publish an East Midlands, UK anthology of work in support of those people currently receiving so little welcome as they arrive in Calais with the hope of reaching the U.K.

The below poem is one in a series of pieces by Ambrose. #WhosYourNeighbour?



we threw
things that were heavy

they sank
we stayed afloat
we lived

they turned
into creatures of the sea
and stayed below the surface

when we reached dry land
they turned
into creatures of shadow

and followed us everywhere


If you’d like to get involved, please tweet us @3HardWayPoets along with the hashtag #WhosYourNeighbour – with a link to a responding work as text and/or as a recorded reading. For full details on the campaign see here.

AMBROSE MUSIYIWA facilitates CivicLeicester, a community media channel that uses video and photography to document and highlight conversations taking place in and around Leicester. He is the author of The Gospel According to Bobba (CivicLeicester, 2015 http://amzn.to/1fcisBj), a slim volume of poems that, among other things, defines the good life, celebrates the joys of a cup of tea and biscuits, and presents a way of dealing with challenges and fears.

Ambrose Musiyiwa
y. https://www.youtube.com/user/CivicLeicester
f. https://www.facebook.com/CivicLeicester
t. https://twitter.com/CivicLeicester


As we continue to look towards this year’s Autumn tour, here’s a poem by our own Jean Binta Breeze – taken from her latest collection, Third World Girl (Bloodaxe Books) and pre-dating the current refugee crisis.

Over the next month we’ll be sharing more poems in response to this issue, linking to more initiatives and engaging with our tour campaign and question – ‘Who’s your Neighbour?’

If you’d like to get involved, please tweet us @3HardWayPoets along with the hashtag #WhosYourNeighbour – with a link to a responding work as text and/or as a recorded reading. For full details on the campaign see here.


(for those who drown between Africa and Europe)

I love this land
never thought of owning it
till you came
and fenced it all
stamped your name upon it
pushed me to the edge

I should have killed you then

years passed
I was slowly starving
so I crossed to where you came from
but you set up borders

So here I am
drowning in the oceans in between
tangled in the nets you set
for fish.

FOREIGN / AOIFE MANNIX / #WhosYourNeighbour?


As we continue our series of #WhosYourNeighbour poems, here’s a wonderful piece kindly contributed by poet and performer, Aoife Mannix. Foreign is one of a series of works by Aoife exploring her recent diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer.

If you’d like to get involved, please tweet us @3HardWayPoets along with the hashtag #WhosYourNeighbour – with a link to the work as text and/or a recorded reading. For full details see here.



The woman on the other side of the curtain
sounds scared as she asks him again
what he will take out. Her English, she says,
is not good, and she clearly doesn’t know
what the word biopsy means.

He keeps repeating it slightly louder,
as if she’s retarded, till I want to scream
tests, it just means tests, because how terrifying
must it be to hear that if there is any abnormality
we will cut something but you don’t know what.

Cancer being a language
I’m still struggling to learn myself.
The lost irony of words like ‘elective’
laughing at my primary school requests for the toilet
and the temperature of lymph nodes misinterpreted
into messages of sympathy for strangers.

The man in the next bay who says he’s lived
on cornflakes for the last eighteen months.
There’s been times he’s wished he was dead,
but he’s still here. The husband sobbing in Spanish
in the chair across from me, his tears needing no translation
as his wife leans forward in her bed to say his name.

The look of shock on that woman’s face
as she clutches her teenage daughter’s arm.
‘Sit closer to me or I’ll start singing’ she jokes.
A strange intimacy, all of us here
in Babel’s waiting room
where the only universal word is love.


AOIFE MANNIX was born in Sweden of Irish parents. She grew up in Dublin, Ottawa and New York before moving to the UK. Cocktails from the Ceiling (2013) is her latest poetry collection. She has four previous poetry publications with tall-lighthouse; The Trick of Foreign Words (2002), The Elephant in the Corner (2005), Growing Up An Alien (2007) and Turn The Clocks Upside Down (2008). She has also published a novel Heritage of Secrets (2008). She has been poet in residence for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Bronte Parsonage, Gosport Gallery, Central Foundation School for Girls, Mayville Primary School and BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live amongst others. She has performed throughout the UK and toured internationally with the British Council to Vietnam, China, Latvia, Nigeria, Turkey, Taiwan, Thailand, India, Norway and Austria. Her children’s show Misunderstood Monsters has just completed a highly successful UK tour and she has been awarded an Arts Council grant to create a new show for 4-8 year olds called Radio Pirate. She has also been commissioned by the City of London Sinfonia to work with composer Stephen McNeff on a piece about WWI. She has a PhD in creative writing from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Aoife currently blogs, here: https://livingasanalien.wordpress.com