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A contemporary fable

Friday, July 14, 2006
I really love this story by Aziz , a writer who fled Sudan in 2001. It reminds me of Aesop's fables - only it's so much better.

I wonder if the slugs in my garden have such incredible stories to tell...


Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Over the last few years, I have met more and more asylum-seekers who are suffering an interminable waiting period for the Home Office to decide their fate: whether they will be allowed 'leave to remain' or face being sent back to countries from which they have fled as a result of torture and persecution. The endless waiting for a decision - which, in my experience, can be more than three years in many cases - is a kind of torture in itself. It is not unusual for carefully-prepared case histories to disappear - lost by lawyers or government officials - so that the whole process has to begin again.

In the meantime, the people I have met are desperate to get on with their lives, to get a job, to make a contribution to the new society in which they find themselves. They are not 'spongers' who want to sit around in their rooms all day on tax-payers' money. And, if you have ever seen the kind of miserable housing allocated to asylum-seekers, you will appreciate the truth of this more than most.

This story called 'Weekend' by Stephanie, an asylum-seeker from Cameroon, captures perfectly the nightmare of waiting, the interminable cycle of fear, that is seeking asylum. If we ever needed more motivation to call upon our government to review the asylum process - to make it faster, more efficient, more humane - then this story surely provides that.

Two more poems on asylum

Monday, July 10, 2006
Today I want to introduce you to two poems by Amina.

Amina fled Mogadishu in Somalia after the war had stolen her entire family from her. So far, her application for asylum in the UK has been refused, but she is working with a lawyer to appeal the decision. She writes as a way of trying to cope with the pain of what has happened to her and is a member of the Write to life group at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

I love these two small poems - what they say and what they don't say; what can be read in 'the gap'. Amina will be among the writers whose work will be read at a special event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August. More info on this to follow.

New writing

Thursday, July 06, 2006
Apologies for the silence. We've all been busy writing (and I've finally submitted the thesis) so there's lots of new material ready to be posted on the LOBI wiki. Take a look. I particularly love this poem by Mark Hill.