A call for poems by young people in care and care leavers

I am seeking  poems  from young people in care and care leavers between the ages of 12 to 25. The poems will be part of an exciting galleryexhibition called Salander taking place at The Roundhouse.   You can find more information about the project here.    Send via the comment response to this blog.The deadline is October 12th. If you would like to use a different name that’s okay too. Please send to Josephine.Bamford@roundhouse.org.uk or Georgina.Bednar@roundhouse.org.uk or via  the post to Lemn Sissay, The Roundhouse,  Chalk Farm Road London NW1 8EH.  Any queries then just ask.


24 thoughts on “A call for poems by young people in care and care leavers

  1. What a wonderful idea. I am a mother whose child is stolen and I would like to join this group.
    Poems, children’s pictures , stories, life stories all this is a wonderful thing to give to child and to raise awareness among children that they can be stolen. And they have to look around for other children to help them to reunite with their parents.
    Really great idea.
    Thank u very much.

  2. My life has been given a chance, the shark where all around and I was starting to sink into the depths of oblivion, lost and alone. I was falling apart and life was beating away my hopes. I had been robbed of my innocence and mentally criticized that I was unintelligent. Unable to be mature and my thoughts and opinions belittled. I have lived in fear for many a reasons. Fearful of people and fearful of punishment. I craved to be loved and to be good. I obsessed over Love. I have seen true loneliness and the effects it has on your dignity, I have been influenced to feel worthless and dirty. My love is a sin in many of eyes. You joked about my sexuality, belittling me you bully. I have hated my self too many a years and taken your abuse and shown you my tears. I have ran away in a desperate attempt to be free of your damaging nature. I am alone and I am stronger today. I spent many of years racking my brain and now I come to my finally conclusion, sick of the mind you must of been to create this environment which you in flicked onto me.

    I only wish I could have been stronger younger so I could have protected my self without a care giver. Where was my protective by stander?
    Well yesterday has gone and today is a new. My life is developing. I am strong because I have had to be, I have seen things one wishes not to believe. I am done playing games and am done fighting for your attention, I no longer crave your love and ill be dammed if I allow your abuse. A rant I am on, expressing my core. Cant you see, I am getting so much stronger!

    So here is to you and here is to me, for life is too short and there is too much to see, too much to learn and too much to believe in. I will be free and happy as you all can clearly see. My past is dark and yet a beautiful person you all now can see. Lesions learned from past mistakes. I am ready for you world and the future you have for me.

  3. Hi,

    I work for the Guardian Social Care Network. We’d potentially love to do a piece on this. Can you send across a number so I can find out more. Or, email me with more info?



  4. I work for a county youth charity in the south west – I’ve passed this on to the local ‘Virtual schools’ team and to our mentors who work with teenagers in care.

  5. I would love to come along to support these young people. They richly deserve for their voices to be heard.

    I am currently completing my next poetry book about children who have been in the care system. The book also looks at some of the experiences of foster carers looking after children and young people and their navigation of the social care system.

    I would love to hear from anyone who wishes to share their experiences – if Lemn doesn’t mind. Do let me know.

    Many thanks

    Janett Plummer
    London based poet.

  6. What do you want from us?
    What do you expect from us?
    ‘Cause recently it’s felt like one day at a time with no direction,
    Accumulating into some unknown heavenly perfection.
    But is heaven really that great?
    And is hell really so bad?
    Because if it is, trust me, I’ll give you everything that I have, but,
    I’ve always been one to think for myself, and,
    I don’t want to just be boxed up and put on a shelf.
    If it’s an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,
    Then fine, I’ll eat a few dogs along the way,
    But there is one thing I’d just say.
    If science is an art, then how come art can’t be science,
    I mean, I’m no hippie, but could there not be more to this alliance?
    If life is just about happiness, then let me do it my way.
    Let me mess up and start again, trust me I’ll be okay.
    It’s just one big rat race with no reward,
    No room to make or do what I want, on my own accord.

    People always say these years are the best in life,
    But I’m not convinced, it seems like this freedom comes at a price.
    A world of uncertainty, where the most passionate feelings can be deceiving.
    Trying to analyse an existence, where seeing isn’t always believing.
    Was that an emotion? Or was that just a hormone?
    Is this really about how bad my life is’? Or is it my broken mobile phone?
    But I guess it’s no wonder almost half of all teenagers are self-diagnosed depressives when,
    Society’s onslaught of pressure is just about “bordering on excessive”.
    How can I trust a world when I can’t even trust my own feelings?
    Why can’t I stop playing along? What is it that stops me from dreaming?

    Thank God for what?
    And don’t just assume this is an angry, aimless rant,
    because it’s not.
    I mean, I’m no expert, but I thought of all sins,
    sacrificing your own son was just about the worst of the lot.
    You condemn your people for thought crime,
    Then demand that they love you.
    And we can’t complain, because after all,
    No one is above you.
    If you really are “all-powerful”, then go on,
    make me believe.
    I know it sounds immature but then again,
    I’m not the one who makes promises he can’t keep.
    I mean, I’m not perfect, but then again,
    I guess that makes two of us.

    The film is coming to an end now,
    The credits are rolling.
    So you break into a sad song just to,
    Keep the story going.
    The melody flows as people’s hearts begin to break.
    These aren’t just songs,
    These are moments that you make.
    But see you can’t make reality,
    Reality has no recipe.
    It has the makings of disaster,
    And disaster is not a felony.
    It makes who we are,
    despite who we’d rather be.
    Karma don’t exist and God ain’t gonna come and save me.

  7. I was the one who tweeted for advice and tips on poems and it helped for one!! Thank you so Much Lemn Sissay! You inspire me so much x

    There is no one like me,
    I know who I am and where I wanna be.
    I know for a fact my life is not the best,
    I know for a fact it is a big mess.
    But I try my hardest to keep my head held high,
    Keeping really positive without a tear in my eye

    Yeah I’m a care kid
    everything bad as a teen, yep I did.
    Bullied from young,
    I kept it to myself which was really dumb.
    Beaten up for a mistake,
    When will people grow up for gods sake.
    Used, Abused, Refused is my motto,
    I’d even be lucky just to win the lotto.
    Gang violence, knives, guns and hate,
    I think most of these boys are a little bit late.
    Providing I just realised what’s been happening in my life,
    My boyfriend at the time: Shiloh was killed by a gun and not a knife.
    Get it right,
    I’m not just a little child flying my kite.
    Show no love show no mercy
    I don’t even give a damn if they try curse me
    Give me love give me joy
    Don’t play with me cuz I’m not a toy
    Seriously you don’t wanna mess with me boy
    Cuz you can just hate but not annoy
    Don’t mess with me cuz I’m not a painting
    You can just sit there and carry on hating
    I’ma ignore you and carry on mating
    And it’s not just quotes that I’m just stating
    It’s the way of life that I am debating
    Living my life my way is what I’m demonstrating
    I know I’ve done wrong
    All I can thing to do is turn this into a sad song
    Look I’m sorry for all the pain I’ve caused
    What would we do of the world just paused?

  8. Hi Lemn,
    Sorry I’m off topic re this page…
    After we had contact a few weeks ago, I’m heading for Manchester this weekend. Pete, Deyika and a couple of other friends are going to join me for a curry this Sunday 8th. You are warmly invited! If you want the details, email me! Christina

    • Never EVER off topic. Aren’t topics meant to swerve and such. Anyway. Wouldn’t I love to be there if I wasn’t off to Hull to deliver I Have a Dream full sepeech at Teh Freedom Festival. You mean 8th Sept right?

  9. The shiny flute whispered in my ear.
    The golden harp sank me to the floor
    The loud violin screamed as it fell to the floor
    The hyper trumpet made my heart pump with love
    The calm oboe whistled a sweet melody
    The noisy drums shouted into my ear
    The fast guitar crashed asleep as the beautiful song played
    The weird clarinet whistled a lovely tune
    The French horn reached into me and made me vibrate
    The saxophone danced with the rhythm
    The recorder squeaked like a high pitch seal

  10. Hi Lemn,

    This sounds really beautiful and I can’t wait to step inside and drink in the words! Such a fantastic way of releasing just a few of the millions of voices of young people in care – letting them breathe and be ‘breathed’.

    I’ve been asked to do a wee Q&A on it for Roundhouse and Run Riot and wondered if you’d like me to include any specific detail(s)/points or if you had any more info about the piece? I’ve searched all over but can’t find anything about Salander specifically other than on Fuel and Roundhouse sites.

    Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Big wishes and best warmth,


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