If I Could Reach Home – poems and documentary

In Autumn 2016, writer Hermione Sethi worked with a group of female asylum seekers from The Hope Projects to produce a series of poems on the themes of home, identity and belonging.

The poems formed the basis of  a new classical and contemporary Bharatanatyam and Kathak dance performance called If I Could Reach Home, which was choreographed by Magdalen Gorringe mentored by award-winning choreographer Gary Clarke and supported by an Akademi Choreogata Award.

Part joyous, part poignant, the piece explored how homes are redefined, what makes a home and the pain of being forced to leave. Above all, it celebrated and emphasised our humanity and ‘all that we hold more in common’. It was performed by Magdalen along with wonderfully expressive dancers Lakshmi Srinivasan and BBC Young Dancer Finalist, Vidya Patel.

In the lead up to the shows, young people from the All Saints Youth Project and adults from Rowheath Drama Workshop worked with Hermione, Magdalen and Vidya to create their own performances using poetry and movement. 

You can now see some of the poems written by the participants below, along with a short documentary about the project.

If I Could Reach Home

My bag is square in shape
Medium size
Blue in colour.
If I could reach home
I would have picked up
Pictures of my Mum
Brothers
Nephews
Nieces
And some African Food
Banana
Sweet potato
Jackfruits
Passionfruits
Mangos.
Immaculate
Go and open the door
If I open the door, I want
To see Freedom.
Parents
Friends
Family.

Go and open the door
If I open the second door, I want
To see Nature
Paradise
Peace.
No worries,
No fear.
All evil things destroyed.

Name withheld

***

Go and open the door
I can hear the noise,
There may be people outside.

Go and open the door
The people are
Dancing, singing and shouting.

Go and open the door,
They have good news,
We have got our papers to stay.

Immaculate

***

The lost necklace

Oh, what’s that, it’s Amy!
Amy! Amy! I’m here, under your best pink jumper!
Yes yes yes, come and move the jumper…!
Then someone shouts to Amy: “we’re going now! quick!”
And the bedroom door slams shut.
Oh. It looks like I’m staying here.
Tomorrow’s another day.
So near. So far away.

Amy

***

My Gizmo Teddy
My favourite thing is my gizmo teddy.
It is called Gary.
This is because my grandad gave it to me when I was little.
He bought it from a car boot sale.
When I was younger, I told everyone that he won it out of a grabber machine.

Elle

***
The Beach
CRASH.
A hundred lions, fighting for their food.

The sand was disappearing.

Collecting shells
Looking at the pretty patterns.
Excitedly stringing together ghost-white shells,
Checking for oysters and pearls.

Gulp.
The ice-cream van.
Mad cold frozen ice-cream.

Dogs off the lead,
Really excited, they run into the sea and splash around.

Estelle, Skye and Amy

***

Cannot wait to get home,
After 17 days work.
There’s always a marvellous smell of lovely cooking
And my brother playing the piano.
My brother and I go and feed the chickens and help mom with chores.
On Friday, we go swimming
And it’s nice to come home to a lovely warm house.
The fire really big
And the large pieces of wood crackle in the fire place.

Janet

***
Drip, drip
Drip, drip
Drip
Drip
Drip.
Silence?
No, there’s the tick tock of the clock
Uninterrupted, it ticks for seven days
Once, it was probably in a school hall
But that was over a hundred years ago.
No classroom here.
Children, though, sometimes
Upstairs, squeals of delight in a white bath
Full of bubbles
Each bubble like a rainbow
The children are like rainbows, too.
So many colours, so many shades
So many futures
They love the security of soft soap suds
When they visit, this home is
Their comfort.

Malcolm

***

I can see the sun glazing through the window,
It’s warm outside and the sun is shining upon the roses.
As I go outside into my back garden
I can hear the wonderful sound of the birds singing in the tree branches

Katie

***

Home, to me, means many different things.
A home must be welcoming. (reaching out)
Everything must be accessible to myself,
Although, I have a bad habit of letting things get in my way.
Clutter must be decluttered.

Graham

***

Through the front door
On the left and right is another door.
This is the corridor straight ahead.
There is another door which leads into the lounge.
In the lounge there is another door into the dining room,
With another door out to the Garden.
the other door is too small.
It has so many doors.

Dawn

***
My door is one I painted yellow. It has 12 windows.
It symbolises happiness and frustration,
Because yellow is happy and the windows are hard to paint round.
Welcome to my happy yellow door.
Do you see it at the end of the path?
There’s a cat sitting and another
Meowing.
Meowing, meowing.
Shush! Coming!
Open the door.
Cats rush in.
Or do they rush out?
Can’t tell.

Watch TV. Fall asleep.
It’s 10 o’clock. Purring in ear.
Time for bed. Go upstairs.

Shush! Sleeping!
Listen to the purrs.
Listen to the trees.
The wind.
Feel a cat settle on my feet.
Hear the silence.
Rest.

Jenny

***

I went to ballroom dancing
I wore a long dress with sparkles all over.
We just danced around the room listening to
Music. Had a break and got up and just danced
The night away.

In this ballroom is lots of chairs.
There are lots of people dancing and enjoying them
Selves. And the music is so relaxing, and there is
A bright shiny ball hanging on the ceiling.
Nice long dresses, different colours. They are all
Stunning.
I loved dancing, I felt good about myself and
Felt on top of the world, every Sunday I went ball
Room dancing, I could not wait to go.

Dianne

***
Sitting in my living room – in my living room.
There’s a smell of yankee candle.
Sitting on blue velvet settee with pictures on walls.
Get up and go out through a white door with lots of panels on it.
Going through the door leading to the garden
Going down a stair – to the patio
On the side of the patio there are scented flowers
Red roses – Sunflowers
Also in the middle of the garden there’s green grass.
Walking down the centre of the green grass
A table and chairs.
On the table there are cups and saucers and cake.
Sitting listening to the birds singing and insects making noises.
Feeling of safety – feeling relaxed and
Comfortable.

Sonia

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