After Celebrating our Asylum Stories at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

So, define her separately,
She is not just another
Castaway washed up your
Rough seas like driftwood,
It’s the nameless battles
Your sages burdened on her
People that broke her back;
Define him differently,
He is not another squirrel
Ousted from your poplars,
It’s the endless cyclones,
Earthquakes, volcanoes,
Floods, mud and dust that
Drafted him here; define
Them warmly, how could
Your economic émigré queue
At your job centres day after
Day? If you must define us
Gently, how do you hope
To see the tales we bear
When you refuse to hear
The whispers we share?

— Jack Mapanje

Jack Mapanje was imprisoned in 1987 after publishing Of Chameleons and Gods, a collection of poetry critical of the Malawi president, Hastings Banda. Despite international protests, he was incarcerated for more than three years. Upon his release in 1991, he went into exile in the United Kingdom.

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