We tell stories

Last summer, I heard the amazing performance poet Joel McKerrow perform live. A chance mention by a friend reminded me to listen again online which lead me to hear the wonderful poem "We Tell Stories".

The clue is in the name ... telling stories is at the heart of what we do and what we are about: so it instantly struck me that it would be a perfect thing to share with the Stories of Hope and Home participants. Reflecting on the whys and wherefore of story-telling is essential if we are to ensure our participants are making informed choices about what and how and why they share their stories, and this poem was a great vehicle for doing some of that.

I love poetry: I hope I have been able to impart some of that love to many of those I have worked and shared life with over time. Contrary to what many people think, hidden behind the barriers of "but I don't do / don't understand poetry", I believe  poetry can be an incredibly accessible format for non-native speakers to explore and express themes, ideas and emotions.

So over a number of weeks, first in person, face-to-face when such things used to be allowed, and later, like the rest of the world, through the wonders of modern technology; we reflected on and explored first the great depths hidden within the original poem; then our own depths of experience as story-sharers: those who tell, and those who listen, to all the stories within and around us.

And then we wrote.

And that, became this.

We Tell our Stories

Warm hearts make my imagination dream
Depth and freedom dance
In the meaning hidden behind our words
An inspirational melody sings from the mind to the heart

With butterflies in our stomachs
We tell stories

Unleashing thoughts awaken
Nervous tears to rain profusely
Where anger takes action

But by this urge to say it all
I feel unburdened
Of all heaviness of the heart

In the courage to transfer
joy and sorrow
anger and warmth
strength and tears

Stories give hope

As the crying of a baby breaks across the silent day
We tell stories

With guns in our hearts firing bullets from our lips
Or with love in our hearts pouring peace
We tell stories

Like birds watching over fledglings taking flight from the nest
Like gracious swans calling to each other across a clear pond
after a long journey through the cold winter
Like the complex taste of sweet and sour sauce
Eaten in front of a fire on a winter’s evening

We tell stories

Daring to open our lips, our hearts
Sharing stories
Is like learning to ride a bike,
At first fearful of falling,
Confidence grows with time

And we move forwards
By our stories

Flying in the clouds
I feel on top of the world,
Go to the heights, to see the people’s humanity
In essence, there lies a way to tread

We tell stories

They untie the chains and fly

Filled with empathy at words just heard
Engraved on my soul and repeats my feelings
Convinced that my effected heart feels like yours

I indulge in living their stories
They fill me up

Stories are a medicine for every hearer
And an answer to all questions

We tell stories
Other unique stories

Ask the elders about the last generation
Ask the orphans
Ask the nostalgia for the family of our childhood

We tell stories

Ask the photographs
Ask the vague words
Ask the unfinished poem
Ask a brief biography

Ask the children
Ask the ink in their notebooks

We tell stories

Ask the trees who listen to my innermost thoughts
Ask the river, ask the valley
Ask the wind as she follows me

Ask the singer dancing on the colourful stage
Ask the pilgrimage and ask the pilgrim
Ask the footsteps

Ask the nights spent awake
Ask the painful shelter

Ask the heart what it feels and the mind what it thinks and the body how it reacts

Ask the eyes
Ask the mirror
We tell stories

With prayers in our souls and liberty in our minds
And striving in our hearts, imparting wisdom from our lips
We tell stories

Entering in the depths of my heart
I swim in my imagination
The story of life flows on, like a stream, without ending

We tell stories
Revealing a glimpse of the future.

* not everyone wants their name published online, but we are extremely grateful to the twenty-five people, of seventeen different nationalities, whose contributions created this piece.