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Refugee poet discovered at City of Sanctuary fundraising event.

Leicester City of Sanctuary held a successful evening of jazz poetry and song to raise funds for the hardship fund last Wednesday on 3 September. It was an inspirational mixture of instrumental music, poetry and song that demonstrates the diverse talents of artists in Leicester, a package with no shortage of introspection, improvisation and inspiration! The event was generously hosted by Leicester Jazz House at the University Embrace Arts Centre and raised over £500. We were treated to the rhythmic saxophone riffs of The Free Loaders and also the soulful jazz and haunting voice of Mellow Baku supported by her band with Marcus Joseph. The excellent radical poet, Jess Green shared her experiences of working in a school through the spoken word and her “Dear Mr Gove“ was particularly appreciated.

But the highlight of the event was the Zimbabwean choir made up of local refugees and asylum seekers who had half the audience up and dancing by the end. Mary Sadombe wrote a poem especially for the occasion about her experience as a refugee and followed it up with a another brilliant poem called Citizenship which referred to our rights and responsibilities and the stewardship of the earth. Both were powerful testimonies.

Radio Leicester attended the event and gave us great coverage during the Dulcie Dixon show on Sunday evening. They were so impressed with Mary’s poetry that they also invited her to an interview with Radio Leicester and gave her the opportunity to read more of her poems. We in City of Sanctuary are delighted that our fundraising gig has led to the local radio discovering a poet, and providing her with coverage and promoting African poetry through one of their shows.