“And so, her name at the top left-hand side of the envelop; under it, the address of her prison” – Joseph Andras
For Poetry Day Ireland, in a difficult moment where people all over the world are locked up at home because of the pandemic, we want to bond with artists and activists who are kept in prisons for their art or for practicing freedom of speech, or because they are fighting for human rights.
In such a world, where few are granted unconditional right of movement, while most are excluded from this privilege, or undergo immobilization – we want to invite everyone to write a poetic letter, or a poetic message of few lines, to be sent to artists and activists who are imprisoned by dictatorships at the moment.
We created a list of names to raise awareness about their lives but also to invite you to add to the list by addressing your letter or message to an artist or activist you have in mind.
We don’t wall in our imagination – on the list there are also artists who lost their lives while in prison. Still, we believe poetry will reach them because ‘Letters are winged now’ (Freda Laughton) wherever they are, where we are.
Take a picture of your lines and post it on the FB page ‘Letters with wings’. We will keep posting for 24 hours on Poetry Day Ireland (30th April) and collect messages from all over the world!
After Poetry Day we will try to reach these people in prison and send them our collected message.
Links to the social media pages:
Nandi Jola is a South African born poet and writer. Born during Apartheid, Nandi became very politically aware of her environment from a young age. Nandi came to NI in 2001 and has since published her first poetry collection in 2014 dedicated to the life of Nelson Mandela. Nandi has her one woman play “The Journey” in the Literature Festival Dublin 2020. She has published in several Anthologies including Domestic Violence and Abuse – Her other language. Nandi co-founded She-Wolf Theatre Collective which sold out 4 shows of the Vagina Monologues in 2018 raising money for Women’s Aid rape crisis line. Nandi is also part of Sky, You Are Too Big – a poetry reading on Migrants Day collective of poets.
Viviana Fiorentino was born in Italy. She leads creative writing workshops for cultural minorities and teaches Italian literature. A selection of her poems has been published by Dedalus Press. In 2019, she published a poetry collection in Italy (Controluna Publishing House) and her first novel (Transeuropa Publishing House), which she was invited to present at the Belfast Book Festival 2019. Viviana has been involved in different festivals and poetry readings in Italy and Ireland. In January 2020, she obtained a SIAP from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to write a collection of poems on migration, and a grant for the Home Project. Viviana is also part of Sky, You Are Too Big – a poetry reading on Migrants Day collective of poets.
Maria McManus is the author of WRETCHES, Revolutions, Rights & Wrongs (2019) with composer Keith Acheson, TURF (2018) and DUST (2017), with choreographer Eileen McClory, Available Light (Arlen House, 2018), We Are Bone (2013) The Cello Suites (2009) and Reading the Dog (2006)(Lagan Press). Her writing for theatre includes work with Kabosh, Tinderbox, Big Telly and Replay. Maria has collaborated extensively to put poetry into public spaces. Projects include Poetry Jukebox, Cirque des Oiseaux, Splendid, Liberal. Lofty and LabeLLit. Maria was Prison Arts Foundation Writer in Résidence with the Women’s Group of NIACRO in 2019/20. She is artistic director of Quotidian – Word on the Street Limited.
Anesu Mtowa is a 17 year old poet living in Portadown. Since 2014, she has been writing poems focusing mostly on her identity as a second- generation immigrant. In 2018, she was a member of the ensemble cast of the Vagina Monologues. She is a member of the executive committee member at Northern Ireland Youth Forum. She is published in the Northern Ireland Anthologhy on Domestic Violence and Abuse – Her other language FourbyFour and Community Arts Partnership. Anesu has been Queens University Belfast poet of Black her Story Project for 2018 and 2019.
Csilla Toldy is a writer and artist, born in Budapest. She left Hungary as a teenager and lived in many European countries until she settled in Northern Ireland. Her poems appeared in literary magazines and anthologies, in the UK, Ireland, Canada and Australia. She published three poetry books with Lapwing Publications, Belfast and “Angel Fur” a short story collection with Stupor Mundi Press. www.csillatoldy.co.uk
Wilhelmina Peace is a visual artist and printmaker, Belfast based, originally from France. She holds a Bachelors degree in Cultural Anthropology from Queens University Belfast and currently studies Fine Art Printmaking at Ulster University Belfast. She works and teaches experimental drawing from her studio located at Vault Artists Studios in East Belfast. Her work is an exploration into overarching narratives of metamorphosis, both on a personal level and on a wider, societal plane. She investigates myths and legends from different cultures past and present in order to bring to light our own intimate mythopoesis and journeys of becoming.
Dragoș Mușat is a visual artist, musician and graphic designer originally from southeastern Romania. As a visual artist, Dragos is always challenging the boundaries between traditional and digital mediums. His digital animations feature a playful fusion between anatomy and sacred geometry, where fractal imagery merges with the human form.
We are grateful for their support to: Lia Mills, Catherine Dunne, Carlo Gebler, Paula Meehan, Chris Murray, Nasrin Parvaz, Zehra Doğan, the webzine Kedistan, the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE), PEN international and English PEN, Poetry Ireland.