BBC Proms

BBC Proms

In collaboration with English Pen, Salusbury World was invited to perform at the BBC Proms. Featured is their poem “Home”, written in collaboration with writer and Brave New Voices co-ordinator Rosemary Harris and translator Alice Guthrie.  The poem is written partly in English and partly in Arabic.  Over 12,000 people attended the performance and it was broadcast on the BBC for the entire world to see.  Other celebrities involved in the prom include: Naomi Wilkinson, Josie Lawrence, and Paapa Essiedu.    

Link to BBC article covering the event.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/entertainment-arts-44980425/bbc-proms-i-m-making-my-dreams-real

Link to performance of the poem

https://soundcloud.com/englishpen/brave-new-voices-at-the-ten-pieces-prom

Maryam

How do you feel about the Brave New World’s piece at the BBC Prom’s last year?

I feel proud because I wasn’t thinking I would get to that stage.   I thought it would just be in school.  It was really scary.  I was shaking.  

Why have these experiences been valuable?  What impact have they had on you?

After the performance, I found that I can do something I would never have believed I could do.  It was difficult speaking in front of all those people.  I felt proud delivering something in my language, not English.  

Mohammed

How do you feel about the Brave New World’s piece at the BBC Prom’s last year?

Very proud.  I’m proud of myself being in a performance not many people do.  It makes you feel special.  I feel I’m presenting my country in a good way.  I’m showing people the good side of Syria, not just the war.  

Why have these experiences been valuable?  What impact have they had on you?

It opened me to more opportunities.  It made me more ready to try other new things.  It made me more confident communicating with new people.  

Sajeda

How do you feel about the Brave New World’s piece at the BBC Prom’s last year?

I felt very nervous first of all.  I was so proud because I’m famous now. I’m so happy I spoke in front of thousands of people.  I’d never spoken in Arabic in a big place.  It was weird but nice that it’s my language.  

Why have these experiences been valuable?  What impact have they had on you?

I’m confident now.  I can stand up for myself.  I can do whatever I want.  Everyone knows me, I’m the famous one!

Sayeda

How do you feel about the Brave New World’s piece at the BBC Prom’s last year?

I had a mix of feelings during the moment.  It was heart-touching because you don’t often get the chance to talk about your country.  Everybody paid attention.  They were absorbed in our poem.  We got our voices heard.  

Why have these experiences been valuable?  What impact have they had on you?

It increased my confidence.  It put me out of my comfort-zone.  It made me realize that I can do that, that there are so many opportunities that I can shine for and achieve.  

HOME

PART ONE

We did not all write these brave new words.
The words we speak are the thoughts
Of children who’ve come from far away.
Their names are:

Maryam, Sajeda, Nermen, Rawan,
Mohammed and Mohamad,
Sayeda, Ruba, Heba, Anwar, Noor.

The words travelled from the pages they wrote
Into our mouths.

Our friends’ words are searching
For a safe home
In your thoughts.
In your hearts.

Their words say:
There are so many of you here, and so few of us.
They say:

To speak in front of all these people
I would feel crazy.
Heat would rise in my ears,
My face on fire.
People think about my languages and they think
What am I speaking about?

‘Is this girl crazy or is something wrong with her?’

PART TWO

People didn’t understand us when we came
And it was hard to learn
And people told us we can’t speak in Arabic.
They were thinking that we spoke about them.

When I came here I didn’t know any English
Only numbers and letters, that have no feelings.

I used to get bullied in school,
But some people understood.
The teachers were kind.

Some people just speak one language.
I am clever.
I feel confident and proud.
I have another language.

Now I can answer any question you ask me.

شو, نسيتي لغتك؟ نسيتي انتي من وين؟ / نسيتي من وين انتي؟
What, did you forget your language?
Did you forget where you come from?

.مستحيل
.بحياتي شي اهلى البلدي
Impossible.
My homeland is the most beautiful thing in my life.
I remember Somalia.

I remember Saudi Arabia.
I remember Bangladesh.
I remember Iraq.
I remember Syria.

PART THREE

This song makes my heart get more scared.
It makes me feel nervous,
It sounds so grand,
Like the Royal Family, like church or a funeral
When soldiers have died.

It makes me feel like going to bed!
It’s sympathetic like a lullaby.
It gives me the feeling of when you lose someone.

It makes me feel I am in Syria,
Eating falafel for breakfast
With my family.

The weather is a kind of feeling in your heart.
You are lonely
Thinking about war.

This music is like old material,
Like old fashion.
We need exciting music to dance to!
This is not music from home!

PART FOUR

Souq Al-Hamidiyah in Damascus is a noisy, busy, famous market!
We feel joyful because everyone can understand us!

Traditional clothes, great pyramids of sweets,
Fresh tropical fruits, watermelon,
Pineapple, tamarind, green plum

And delicious ice cream.
If you are angry and you eat this ice cream,
It will calm you down.
I used to go to the funfair at Eid.

Ten turns on the Ferris wheel, I’m excited to get to the top.
I see the lights of the city, the green lights of the mosques.

I’m like an eagle, riding the sky.
We call the roller coaster –
the Death Train!
My friends and I think we’re going to die!
We scream until we lose our voices.
Sometimes we vomit!

The ghost train is called the City of Fear.
When you start to travel through it,
They throw scary things at you, they seem so real!
Bodies, ghosts. The lights go out then glow
In red and green, like you’re haunted.
You’re terrified but still it’s fun, you’re living
A new reality.
Then you come out the other side.

You’re living a new reality.

 

PART FIVE

On special occasions, we have special sweets
To welcome everyone home.
We all come back together again.
Reunited.
Lamma – shamil.

My grandma cries when she sees our pictures
Because we are growing up without her.
She would hug me. She would look the same.
My grandmother misses us.

We used to have a big home with space for all of us.
I have so many cousins!
I would faint if I saw them all!
In our home there was lots of room
For everyone to be together.
Love and safety.
Thinking about the times I used to be with my mother,
When she used to kiss me.
In London, everyone is bottled up.
We feel lonely when we think too much about war.
We feel like we cannot tell people not to speak English.
It’s hard when we don’t understand what you’re saying.

شو, نسيتي لغتك؟ نسيتي انتي من وين؟ / نسيتي من وين انتي؟
What, did you forget your language?
Did you forget where you come from?

.مستحيل
.بحياتي شي اهلى البلدي
Impossible.
My homeland is the most beautiful thing in my life.

We remember Somalia.
We remember Saudi Arabia.
We remember Bangladesh.
We remember Iraq.
We remember Syria.

My heart would do cartwheels of joy if we were all together.
There are special songs to welcome everyone home.


Written by Capital City Brave New Voices, Rosemary Harris and Alice Guthrie

Arabic translation by Alice Guthrie

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