By Amna Akram
Exploring new writing and poetry with Muslim young people, the new art project culminates in a unique public work of art, designed by Nadina Ali, exhibited on a prominent bus stop in Liverpool’s Toxteth Community.
On May 24, 2022 the installation will be launched to the public, including a celebration with music, food and performance at the Lodge Lane, library bus Stop from 6-7pm.
The project engaged with young people in Liverpool with diverse Muslim backgrounds through a series of workshops. These workshops provided a safe space for the group to express themselves; to explore conversations about family, care, belonging, and community; and to create work that shows their lives beyond stereotypes.
The project culminated in two poems that will be shared; one by Amina Atiq and one incorporating the words and languages of the Poet’s Gift group.
The project was initiated after Amina Atiq and 20 Stories High Artistic Director Keith Saha reflected on the rise of racial-religious attacks following the terrorist attack on the Liverpool Women’s Hospital in November 2021.
They identified a lack of spaces available for Muslim young people to discuss their feelings, experiences, and identity.
Amina Atiq said: “It has been incredible to conceive and deliver Poet’s Gift with 20 Stories High. It’s been a privilege to work with this group of young people and support them in articulating their experiences and feelings. I think it’s so impactful that we are able to share their words at a bus stop.
“Bus stops hold significant meaning to working class communities, migrants and school children – a place of coming together but also a place of real potential risk. Through poetry, I have expressed feelings around my early experiences of Islamophobia and racism experienced at bus stops. It is brilliant that these young people’s poems and voices will be shared so prominently, and hope they will ignite some vibrant conversations.”
Keith Saha, Artistic Director of 20 Stories High said: “Amina is such an important artist in our city. She has an amazing way of collaborating with young people and young artists. A passionate, political voice that nurtures new talent and gives confidence to young people to express themselves. The group of young people were amazing and truly reflected the diversity in Liverpool’s Muslim Community including participants from, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.”
Muhammad Elmi, freelance Community Engagement Associate and Pastoral Support Worker said: “As a young lad from the area, I never had the opportunity to be involved in projects like this. Growing up, the support for young people was abysmal – for a number of reasons. To now be given the opportunity to get involved in supporting the future generation is an honour. I very much hope that this project is the beginning of a new era for young muslim Scousers.”
The installation is expected to remain on the bus stop until June 26, 2022.