Thursday, May 26, 2022 - 19:00


Angela Graham | Launch of Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere

Angela Graham and contributors to Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere read their work live on Zoom.

Syria. Afghanistan. And now Ukraine. We are in an epoch of migration, of climate crisis, of fake news and polarisation, of attacks on the sacred or imposition of orthodoxy. What can a poet offer?

For Angela Graham, in this most tragically timely debut collection, the public horrors and agonies need to be faced; but the idea of places of safety and shelter must also be explored.

The poems in Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere pose key questions. How are we to respond to war and upheaval? How do we find our personal Sanctuary; or create it for others? How can we be safe – and open? Is anything sacrosanct these days? What can we believe in?

Angela Graham divides her time between Wales and Northern Ireland. Wales aims to become the world’s first Nation of Sanctuary. In Northern Ireland the Cities of Sanctuary movement is growing. Seeking to embody the concept of sanctuary in the very design of the book, Angela has invited five other writers from these places, each with their own lived experience of sanctuary, to contribute a poem, written in collaboration with her.

In this event, Angela and the contributors Phil Cope, Viviana Fiorentino, Mahyar, Csilla Toldy and Glen Wilson, will read from the collection and share other creative work on this theme.

Register for free via Eventbrite here

Please note: This event will be on Zoom. Registration will close at 6:30pm on Thursday 26th May, after which you will receive an email from Eventbrite containing the meeting link. If you do not receive this email or have trouble getting into the meeting please email directly.

About the contributors:

Angela Graham is a distinguished TV producer. She was Development Producer on the award-winning BBC series The Story of Wales presented by Huw Edwards; and producer and co-writer of the Oscar entrant cinema feature Branwen . Her short story collection A City Burning (Seren 2020) was longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize. Her poems have been published in journals such as The North, Poetry Wales, The Interpreter’s House and widely anthologised.

Phil Cope is a photographer and writer from Wales who is an expert on holy places in the British Isles. Viviana Fiorentino is an economic migrant from Italy, living in Northern Ireland. She is a social activist with migrants and prisoners of conscience and a board member of Irish PEN. Mahyar is an Iranian now living in Wales. Csilla Toldy is a Hungarian film maker and writer who fled communist Hungary and lives in Northern Ireland. Glen Wilson (a winner of the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing) acted as mentor for Angela’s work and contributes a poem on migration.


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Praise for Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere

“In this wonderful collaborative collection there is work that variously provokes, soothes, challenges and affirms. Together, the poems provide a meditation on the meaning of ‘sanctuary’ at a time when the word’s relevance to our lives feels increasingly urgent. A vital and illuminating publication.” – Moyra Donaldson, an Arts Council NI Major Individual Artist

“Challenging, immediate, generous, uncompromising, urgent interventions in present-day affairs… The poems are tough but humane, sensitive but fearless, alarming but reassuring: this collection reminds us that at a time of trauma poetry is not optional – it is essential.” – Dr Kevin De Ornellas, Lecturer in English, Ulster University

“Impactful, emotionally resonant, multicultural… Sanctuary conveys the “visions and visitations” of a group of writers in this finely curated, relevant collection.” – Dr Matthew M. C. Smith, writer and editor of Black Bough Poetry.

“An urgent publication in times like these. Never was there more of a need --- a need for the grace and goodness of strangers…” – Professor Emerita Menna Elfyn, Chair Wales PEN Cymru

“My own family were refugees from Hungary in 1956… Sanctuary is primarily physical but it offers a spiritual place of safety too. It is a token of generosity from the giver and a source of inner comfort for the receiver... The collection is full of moving, serious poems and individual voices. This too is sanctuary.” − George Szirtes, recipient of multiple poetry awards including the T. S. Eliot Prize, and a Man Booker International winner as translator.

Photo credit: Natasha Hirst