I was very grateful to be given a full day for an idea I had to celebrate the different languages in Bolton. I started by doing the rounds of shops and cafes in town, talking to people and trying to get them to write something in their language. It was not easy, but eventually some of them agreed. My first writer was Ranjan Rajani who wrote in Gujarati, thanks to a friend of mine, Bhakti Kotecha who put me in touch with Ranjan. Maria Arcuri, whom I already knew, agreed to write something in Brazilian Portuguese and Natalie Smalley, an established poet, provided some work in Russian.
With only one or two maybes besides these I was struggling but then I met Mustafa Kaynak from Bolton Language School, having been put on to him by another Mustafa I knew from the Town Cafe. At Bolton Language School I also met one of the teachers, Syla Asghar, who was instrumental in getting her students to write for the event. All the writers did a very rough English translation.
We held an afternoon workshop as part of the Festival and some helpers came along to polish up the translations by offering the writers various choices: my wife Susie, Kath Brown, Margaret Challender, Abi Idowu and Syla Asghar all helped. We did a rehearsal for the evening performance and practised using a microphone.
The evening session was in two parts: the writers and English readers did the first hour and the second hour was devoted to Anjum Malik, a high profile Urdu poet from Manchester. At the end of the first session, all the writers were presented with a Certificate of Recognition which listed all the skills which they had demonstrated in the afternoon and evening sessions. 52 people were present. Anjum said that she had performed all over the country and abroad and never seen anything like it before. Her own set was excellent as usual.
this link will take you to the festival website. Page 2 of the archives will give you more reports on these events. You can also look at the Gallery and Video sections for more on these events.
I hope there will be more to come from this initiative and want to include more languages and more writers and performers in future events.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of these events!
The writers were:
Fazal Abdul Samadu