United Kingdom (London)
The world is on the move, our climate is changing, a pandemic keeps us apart. So there’s never been a better time for this unique poetry collective, which brings together people who may never otherwise meet.
A space for sharing voices, for sharing food, for sharing humanity, Change the Word brings together people recently arrived to the UK with those who have lived there all their lives. Open to all, the idea is to tell bigger stories of hope and humanity – using the power and hope of words.
This growing collective – which now numbers more than 50 people – first launched in Coventry in 2019, then in Sheffield in 2020, and now heads to Barnsley as its national roll-out continues apace.
Speakers of all languages are welcome to the weekly workshops to write poetry, to spark ideas and to share those ideas with the world through a professional poetry anthology, podcasts, poetry and films: “You just need to be able to take part in workshops led in simple English. The storytelling and performance project is open to all but particularly welcomes refugees and asylum seekers.”
Guided by professional writers and theatre practitioners, the group works to express themselves, to share their stories and to share ideas with each other and with the world.
Teach a man to fish and it shall feed him every day.
Breaking of bread is peace and welcome.
– Diyo Mulopo Bopengo
Workshops nurture creative expression and new connections through a bespoke poetry, storytelling and theatre programme that brings together local residents and people recently arrived in a city or town. They fuse the essence of telling stories around the campfire, breaking bread together, with high-profile, high-energy performances in unusual spaces.
Behind the project is award-winning London-based theatre company Good Chance, who believe “it’s time for theatre and art to rediscover their ancient power to connect, help tell our shared story and create new opportunities”.
Good Chance was founded in 2015 by playwrights Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, creators of the multi-award-winning play, The Jungle, which was based on their experiences living and running a theatre in the vast but unofficial refugee and migrant camp in Calais.
They are also the creators of The Walk featuring Little Amal, the giant puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian girl journeying 8,000 km across Europe to celebrate the contributions of refugees.
Through its workshops, Change the Word wants to create a space for self-reflection and develop unique new creative voices that bring new stories to light. The collective builds a new community and fosters cooperation and solidarity between the poets in their creative adventures.
Each cycle culminates in the publication of an anthology of globe-spanning, bold new writing launched in a high-octane public performance.
The film below was commissioned by The Space and features four poets – Diyo Mulopo Bopengo, Yordanos Gebrehiwot, Nazia Khan and Sarah Orola – who break down what Change the Word means to them and share some of their poems:
AtlasAction: Share the videos to help amplify these brilliant and diverse artists. If you love storytelling, want to develop your poetry skills, want to share stories, want to meet new people, find out more here.
Mali Siloko, Good Chance & Emily Webb, Change the Word
This project has been selected as part of CultureFutures, a storytelling project that maps creative and cultural projects with a social mission – and the artists, collectives and entrepreneurs behind them. Atlas of the Future is excited to join forces with Goldsmiths Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship and the British Council Creative Economy.
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