A book of bilingual poems composed by Devon pupils and parents celebrates the joys of home, and the nostalgia of homes left behind.
The home language is given status and draws out imagery that takes the reader into the landscapes from which the children have come, from Syria to Poland through to Portugal and Romania.
The brains behind the project is Devon EMTAS (Ethnic Minority and Travellers Achievement Service) who, in partnership with publishers Mantra Lingua, release HOME, a 24-page book of poems by pupils from schools, academies and colleges, and illustrated by the children with additional artwork by Devon artist and bilingual teacher, Theodora Totorean.
As Covid-19 forced the closure of schools and learning moved online, the families where English was not the first language felt severely disadvantaged. EMTAS responded with imagination, turning adversity into an opportunity for new learning. Parents were encouraged to become valued partners as they helped children to write the poems in their mother tongue.
The result is a book that brims with freshness, sweetness and pathos. There are drops of honey, but also razors in the mouth.
‘The turtle and the snail take their home where they go, I take my heart’
‘Home that smells of strawberry cake’
‘Squishy sofa, soft as a pillow’
But also the following:
‘I have been put in this hell, which I have to call life’
A Syrian child draws a street being bombed with a pool of blood, yet he writes: ‘Rolling hills and mountains’
The words of William Wordsworth come to mind: ‘The child is the father of man’.
Beautifully produced with an inviting cover, the poems will please not only the authors, their families, and teachers, but will give pleasure to anyone, child or adult, who picks it up.