Fatema S Hawydi

My name is Fatema Sad Hawydi. I was a child when my family fled Iraq because of Saddam Hussein’s regime’s brutality, many of them couldn’t and got killed. All my family including children and women were sentenced to death because they were considered as members of the opposition party. I was raised in Syria in a refugee camp. My father tried his best to give us a normal life. I started attending biology science at Damascus University, unfortunately I couldn’t finish my studying as the civil war started. In 2011 ISIS took over the camp and destroyed my home and again, we had to run away, we didn’t lose anything because we had nothing, we never did. My hero Mohammad Hawydi was burned to death by ISIS, that day I lost everything, my soul, my sun and my smile. I lost my language but I found my pen…..

Fatema will be developing her writing over the next 12 months and looking forward to publishing and reading some of her work, as well as creating a special commissioned poetry film.

She will also be closely mentored during that time to help her create her own workshop based arts project that will target refugee communities across London.

Below are some examples of her work, which we will be developing into the film project:

Eight Years Old

Her mother helped her to wear the new uniform.

It is her first day at school…

The classroom was full of children! New friends!

Like her, they wear the same uniform.

Copying other children, she said “Good morning” to everyone.

She was like them. She was one of them.

“Do you paint your entire house in green? Do you read the same Quran as we do?”

“Why you Shia kill yourselves in Ashura?” the teacher asked her.

All the children’s eyes are fixed on her. Speechless and helpless she stood there, unable to think, unable to blink.

She was not one of them, and will never be.

She was an alien.


Disney Movie

She is crying so hard that her tears turn into blood.

”What is wrong with you?” her parents shout! “It is just a Disney movie!”

No one knows what she has lost to rent that cursed DVD.

“Because we lost your passport, you can keep the DVD…”

Now she wants to die.

They have lost the only piece of paper, which proves she has a face, a heart and a name; the only paper that proves her existence.

Now she does not exist.

No one is going to forgive her, not even God.

Tick Tock

Their anxious eyes are fixed on the clock.

‘How long have you been in this country?’

They stepped with dirty shoes where her father prays, on the rug her mother cleaned two days ago. As they shouted at her family, she swallowed her helpless anger while her mother squeezed her hand in a warning sign.

They do not care if their disgraceful behavior terrifies her 5-year-old sister or humiliates her 70-year-old grandfather. They never did.

Her brother told them he is a doctor, but they laugh as if it was a joke.

Every year they cleanse the camps searching for undocumented families. They come with their military uniforms, heavy shoes and aggressive behavior to spread the horror through the houses.

Money is the only language they speak. Her brother does not understand it. Her father speaks it fluently.


علي, سجاد, عباس


Who cares about names?

ISIS cares.


In my country, they are suicide bombs.

A Piece of Bread

“Why are you not eating the bread?”

“Because mum, I have to lose weight”

“But you are only 6 years old!”

“Yesterday there was a bomb, you carried me, and I was too heavy for you”













Sarah Crutwell

Sarah Crutwell is a Spoken Word Poet and Creative Events Organiser based in the North East. Her work aims to address the things we lower our voices to talk about.

With a performance style that is engaging, raw and at times highly emotive, her work takes on issues such as mental health, sex, loneliness, politics, sexuality, ingrained sexism and a woman’s right to make her own decisions. Sarah’s voice is one of unity, strength and interrogation.

This September Sarah will be publishing her debut poetry collection Pollyfiller with Umbrella Poetry, and looking forward to taking the book across the UK. If you would like to book her, please get in touch.

She is available for both spoken word/poetry performances and workshops

Lady Unchained

“My life ended and began with a prison sentence,
Those metal doors awoke the faith in me”

Lady Unchained

I am Lady Unchained. A poet, promoter, workshop facilitator, Founder and CEO of Unchained Poetry (an artistic platform for artists with experience of the criminal justice system).

Lady Unchained is available for performances, workshops, panels and discussions, and is currently working working on her debut poetry collection and album.

Over the course of the next 12 months, more examples of Lady Unchained’s ground breaking and emotive work will be posted up here alongside listings of her performances and workshops. She is a powerful advocate of women within the prison system and her writing and performances challenge everything we thought we knew about the criminalised female.

Keep checking back to read cantos and short stories from Lady Unchained, as well as a specially commissioned film of a new piece written exclusively for The Night Alphabet project.

Janet Philo

Parents’ Evening

The skirt was heather tweed. Smart and practical for school. It fit me then; the hips were straighter. It rustled when I walked. I liked that – it felt a bit posh when you rustled. The rustle was so loud, I didn’t hear him behind me. His gaze was hot on my back.

I’d shown him the bite marks. The bruises were under thick tights – not for showing. I wondered about human saliva – isn’t it poisonous when it enters a wound? I told him about the boy; autism still controlled his flailing arms, and kicking feet. He was young. I would guide him towards an understanding of the rules. Eventually.

The tall grey man smiled; sovereignty spread across his face, like jam – too thick.  He could help – he said.

A pair of eyes, in a seven year old face, screamed for help. The corner of a wooden building block hovered above her skull. It was my job to shield skulls from bricks, shins from shoes, and arms from teeth. I wrapped my adult arms around this small, hot ball of energy; he was a power-surge; a circuit working on a different set of switches.

Later, parents waited outside. The door would open at seven o’clock. My professional mask hung, freshly ironed, on the back of the classroom door. Fingers wrapped a mug of tea. It warmed the teeth marks; a reddening landscape, rippling across the back of my hand. I accepted the thought of infection. No help was coming.

Six fifty five. The door opened. I was putting on the mask – still vulnerable. I stood up as he came in, made room for his authority. He took my vacant space. My chair had wheels – he moved easily towards me. The movement of his arms was quick, strong and unexpected. I questioned reality, or my understanding of it. We were somewhere else now.

His lap was soft and warm – I didn’t stay long enough to feel it harden. His arms were hard enough. I had no breath left; he had squeezed it out of me.

“That’s how you restrain them – you don’t need to go on a course – no money in the budget.”

It was the cold eyes I hated most. He never spoke to me again.

Kym Deyn

Rare as Hen’s Teeth

all of the women in the room have my mother’s face.

they cluck the chatter of battery hens turned loose

onto grass, uncertain of their habits,

each spitting out hen’s teeth.

we strip them, bind them in cotton to keep.

we flinch with each as though

scratched at the gums, the dentist makes us

speak, our mouths filled with water

and clattering instruments.

the image of my mother refuses

to join us.


I am the Barbie doll from the boot sale

with children’s scissors taken to its hair,

shorter and shorter. I think I got called A Queer

for the first time yesterday.

I don’t know what to tell them.


I’m jealous of Barbie. look under her dress.

I spent the evening in the mirror,

where my collar bones

slope to nothing.


on forms people ask my gender,

I want to tell them “No Thank You.”


in warm rooms, women mill like cats and

talk about their wombs. they speak in unison.

my mouth is waiting for me to say that

I am not a woman. I wonder if my silence gives me



Kym Deyn


There are no reliable figures, but at least 0.4% of the UK population identifies as nonbinary/gender nonconforming.[1] I am one of them.


I was sat in one of our student accommodation flat-pack bedrooms when my housemate asked me my name and I couldn’t tell her. That night the moon had swallowed it. I waxed and waned in silver. The moon tried to hold me in her luminous gaze, she reminded me I make tides like her. Reminded me I was like her and like all the others like her. I am not, but my mouth had been glued shut with moon dust.

The rain broke a week later, and I couldn’t bear it. I sat on a window ledge and my housemate and I were bathed in yellow from her bedside lamp. When it was my turn to speak I told her I wasn’t a girl. The trees outside shook. I said, I have another name. I said listen– listen to the sound of it.

She said my name sounds like the rain at evening. Listen, she said, listen how the earth is calling you home.


The Avenue

I was caught in this moment, a sort of temporary madness. I wandered restless through the house, paused in doorways. I’d met something strange on my first day there, sat by the bay window in the sunshine and meditated. I liked to think it was the spirit of the place, I could feel it like a snatch of lavender in the air. I could feel it that day too and I entertained the daydream a moment longer.

I said, “Teach me something.” I stepped between the basement and the rest of the house. In the doorway I’m dizzy, like it was a house in a snow globe and some creature has just shaken it.

I felt like I’d seen her once, laid along the tarmac like a snake. There were shifting faces all down her back. I drew her on the whiteboard in the kitchen and it took a whole month before my flatmates erased it.

I moved to the kitchen and the light was grey and sharply angled, trying not to be there at all. I felt as though I was underwater. I saw the kitchen, I saw the ocean, choppy, and as grey as the light from the windows.

I swam to an island. I was standing in my kitchen. On the island was a fire, and beside it, a woman with dark hair and a shawl made of black wings. She whispered. I was startled back to the cupboards, but first I caught something that was almost like a deer—a pair of eyes watching from above all of this.

When I walked downstairs again, after almost half an hour, I was so dazed I missed the last three steps on the stairs and fell crumpled to the floor.

I realised later that the woman had whispered her name to me.


[1]Titman, N.  2014/12/16. “How Many People in the UK are Nonbinary?”. Practical Androgyny. https://practicalandrogyny.com/2014/12/16/how-many-people-in-the-uk-are-nonbinary/Accessed: 2018/07/02.