Spoken, Not Stirred Fundraiser for ‘Catastrophe’ with Daljit Nagra

By: John Akinde

'Catastrophe’ tells the tragic story of sea migration, painting the issue of many young Somali men and women, who take to the sea, in an attempt to migrate away from their homes, in search of a better life. Weedhsame conveys the reality of sea migration in his community with such poignant articulacy, confronting the sea in a fiery dialogue. The poetic discussion between man and the sea unpacks a remarkably, stirring perspective on sea migration and offers much thought to the current refugee crisis.  Weedhsame does well to portray the perils of sea migration with such poetic sentiment. The Poetry Translation Centre have made it their task to bring this poem to UK audiences. for the last month, the PTC has made efforts to crowdfund for the publication of the poem, into a poem-poster, named ‘Catastrophe’, written by Weedhsame, translated by Daljit Nagra and Martin Orwin with chilling illustrations from Brian Talbot.

Efforts were made by various organisations to support the crowdfunding campaign, this included Spoken, not Stirred and Studio 3 Arts. Spoken, Not Stirred, who run regular poetry events in the east end of London, organised a fundraiser event on Saturday the 5th of August 2017. The event featured a reading from Radio 4 resident poet, Daljit Nagra who delivered an excerpt of the poem for an audience of keen poetry lovers. The audience enjoyed the reading, with servings of samosas and plantain crisps for refreshment. Daljit's reading was followed by a poetry open-mic section which offered an exciting mix of performers, from various walks of life, some unravelling very touching subjects while others offered humorous pleasure.

Poet, Celestina Rowaiye delivered her poem ‘Blackberries’ shining light on the confining boundaries of beauty that seeks to exclude many black women from being ‘Beautiful’ (check the Youtube video of the poem here). Dauda Ladejobi, another poet, delivered a piece called ‘Home’, unpacking the realities of the current refugee crisis, cleverly reinventing the saying, ‘‘Home is where the heart is’ to show the turmoil faced by many refugees. The open mic, soon drifted to a close, bringing the event to an end. Many sought to stay behind to listen to the African music that was being played and engaged in further conversation. All donations at the event went directly to the PTC’S crowdfunding campaign and were part of the many contributions that will see Catastrophe come to life for UK audiences. In the poem, Weedhsame sends a powerful message to young Somali men and women, releasing an unconventional opinion on sea-migration. He states in a passage:

“A shattered world surrounds you,

that no one has yet made whole.

The responsibility rests on you”

 Weedhsame, skillfully portrays two tales, one that uncovers the harsh reality of sea-migration yet also reveals the need for unrelenting, persistent hope in the youth, transforming the 'shattered world' around them. Catastrophe is a poem that is, very much, worthy of the support it is has received and a massive thanks and appreciation must go to everyone that supported, contributed and donated to the successful crowdfunding campaign. Catastrophe is coming on the 9th of October 2017.