What does it mean to be an EU citizen? How do we define ourselves – in relation to the places we live in? By the people we know?
On 17 December 2014, young people from Newham 6th Form College and Ark Globe Academy joined writers, poets and stand-up comedians for ‘Playing With Words’, the grand finale of ‘Between EU and Me‘. This was English PEN’s nationwide citizenship and creative writing project, funded by the European Commission, and linking schools and youth-groups as far afield as Ireland, Croatia, the UK and Greece.
Diverse narratives of Europe emerged as each young poet took to the stage to share their poetry inspired by the continent. In ‘The Teen Speech’, Ark Globe’s Zareen sweeps her lyrical lens across London and the millions of young people who call it home, making ‘an address to our future generations // to our firstborns and our last // our inventories and spreadsheets of ethnicities, race, age and class…’ In ‘A Smidgen for a Pigeon’, Amy from Newham 6th Form College writes of a bird making the difficult transition from an old nest to a new, and wonders where, if anywhere, a ‘homely home’ can be found.
As well as rising young stars of spoken word, the evening featured performances from comedian Nick Revell, slam poet Joelle Taylor and writer Avaes Mohammad among others. Lots of these performers had facilitated Between EU and Me workshops in the preceding months, and as a result find themselves thinking about the EU in new ways. Poet Malika Booker said “[w]e got people to work with people they hadn’t worked with before… It was like the EU itself: people were from different places within each group. And some of the interpretations happening in order to write together and work together as a group were quite fascinating.”
Listen to the Playing with Words podcast:
Sample music taken with thanks from the Free Music Archive, artist Bauchamp, track ‘160 friki Bauchamp’s theme’
Podcast recorded and produced by Resonance FM.
With thanks to the European Commission.