Monthly Archives: March 2015

Love, Laska

Love Laska, Lots of Laughter

From January to March 2015, a class of 12 children at Maindee Primary School, Newport, enjoyed spoken poetry and song-writing classes with bilingual rapper, Rufus Mufasa.

The children, who are from European Roma backgrounds, experimented with the English and Welsh language through the medium of song, beats and performance. The majority are originally from Slovakia, with one boy from Romania, yet they all speak Roma with each other and at home. The Roma language has many forms and dialects depending on the country, but it is the major language of traveling communities in Eastern Europe. It is a non-written language. Although storytelling, music and song are all central to traditional Roma culture, written literature – and literacy – is often neglected. As a result, this project focussed on the oral aspects of literature, using the melodies and lyrics of Roma music as a starting point for their own song: ‘Love, Laska’.

 

 

 

 

The tracks combine Roma, Slovakian, Welsh and English words. ‘Laska’ is the Roma word for ‘love’, for instance. ‘Bystrany’ – another track – is a name of a hometown in Slovakia. The lyrics were inspired by the day-to-day lives and their favourite things: dancing, singing, church, football and, most importantly, family.

As well as working with Rufus Mufasa, the students enjoyed a trip to the Central Library, where they had the chance to have a tour and see the wealth of books on offer. Many of them had not been to Central Library before, and they were all given the chance to register as users of Newport Library services. Moreover, as seen in the short film, a professional beatboxer came in to give the children a masterclass in the art. Beatboxing can give young people the confidence to express different sounds – a skill which lends itself well to the ongoing task of English language learning.

Maindee Primary School is one of the most ethnically diverse schools in Wales, with pupils coming from all sort of backgrounds – including Pakistan, Somalia, Malaysia, China, Poland and many more. The EU Roma students were looked after by enthusiastic teachers, who offer specialist language acquisition classes. With the added support of a Slovakian teacher and translator, the students delved into the multilingual world of poetry, music and song, and produced some awesome beats.

Memories of Barry

Barrybeach

The residents of Golau Caredig, Barry’s new Extra Care Unit, enjoyed a series of reminiscence sessions with poet and artist Francesca Kay last month. Together with Barry Library, Francesca brought archive photographs of Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan to share with the group at their weekly coffee morning. The photographs ranged from beaches filled with holidaymakers; Butlins holiday camp and cable car; the Lilo, dotted with swimmers, sunbathers and ice-cream vendors. Bars and clubs from the 60s and 70s were shown alongside pictures of a deserted Thomas Street, with horse and carriages rather than gleaming cars, in the early 1920s. One lady in particular, who was a remarkable ninety-four years old,  remembered a time when the streets were quieter and there were far fewer houses and buildings lining the sandy coastline than there are now.

Kay, Francesca

Francesca Kay

Together with Barry Libraries, the South Wales Initiative (SWLDI) ran the workshop with the hope of allowing the elderly residents of Golau Caredig to partake in story-telling and creative interaction. The poet Francesca Kay worked with small groups and individuals and used their words and phrases as material for a six poems. These poems will then be accompanied by the archive photographs and displayed at Barry Library and Golau Caredig for everyone to see.

We’re looking forward to seeing the finished exhibition, but – in the meantime – here is the wonderful writing that arose from memories of Barry:

 

Food

Everything was delivered,

Boys on bicycles,

Butcher, baker, greengrocer,

Money in a twist of paper,

My Mam checking her list,

Food to last the week.

 

Damaged fruit to make pies,

Salted swordfish, the oils and juices for gravy.

 

Outdoors,

Chips in newspaper,

Salty, too hot to eat,

An ice cream on the beach,

With a little bit of crunchy sand.

 

Food tasted good then,

Sunday dinner was the best.

 

Outdoor Bathing

The old pool in Barry,

So slippery,

Freezing,

The sea came over and filled it,

You got into gritty water

Down six or seven steps.

 

Only a paddling pool really,

Temperature gauge telling you how cold.

 

Sun bathing,

Bright sunshine,

Thin shivery breeze.

 

 

On the Beach

Crowded?

Not a pinpoint between people,

A patch of sand,

Mam and Dad by the sea wall,

Sat under painted numbers so

We knew where they were.

 

I had a red swimsuit,

A donkey bit my sister.

 

Old Folk dressed in Sunday clothes,

Sat in deckchairs

In their caps and coats.

Playtime

Kids had freedom then,

Out all day,

No-one bothered us.

 

We didn’t have much,

But we had fun,

Shared what we had.

 

End of the day,

Foraging for bottles

to get the money back.

 

For sweets?

No – to give to Mam,

She’d buy something nice for tea.

 

Sunday Best

You didn’t wear it in the week,

Not even socks,

Just for Sunday,

Special occasions.

 

A new outfit for Whitsun

for the Chapel outing,

a dress,

a blazer,

oh – new shoes

so clean and stiff.

 

Everybody wore a hat,

They were smarter days.

The Knap, Moonlight Sonata

We would take the car,

Park for free,

Deckchair for nothing,

Sit down and read the paper.

 

Fish and chips,

Sunshine and sea breeze.

 

Imagine sitting on the beach

Watching the moon come up,

We’re all musicians.