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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

New Perspectives release UNESCO cities of literature podcasts

  • Where I Belong tells the stories of two cities, Baghdad and Nottingham, both UNESCO cities of literature

  • The podcast brings together original pieces from six writers living in Iraq and six writers in the UK, offering a window into cities 3,363 miles apart

  • The project features emerging and established artists, with an emphasis on under-represented voices

  • It follows New Perspectives’ PlacePrints, a podcast series by playwright David Rudkin released 3 years ago and listened to in 50 countries worldwide

The full series dropped 31st August. Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and major podcast directories

New Perspectives released an international podcast series bringing together 12 artists from Baghdad and Nottingham, two UNESCO cities of literature, with the aim to create a platform for dialogue, understanding, and shared experiences. Where I Belong is a 12 track podcast that captures the voices and experiences of artists, predominantly voiced by the writers, including an educational content creator, a poet and artivist, a scientist with a PhD in Aquatic Microbiology, multiple theatremakers and playwrights including Alfred Fagon Award winner Mufaro Makubika, and Nottingham’s first Young Poet Laureate, Georgina Wilding. Each writer from Baghdad is paired with a writer from New Perspective’s home city of Nottingham to explore a common theme. Supported by the British Council's Arts and Audience Grant Scheme, Where I Belong exemplifies the British Council’s commitment to fostering cultural exchange and building bridges between Iraq and the UK through the transformative power of arts and culture.

Nottingham and Baghdad are linked as UNESCO cities of literature, a designation that celebrates the historical and contemporary successes of writers and artists living in the areas. Where I Belong bridges the gaps between these two diverse yet connected communities. The exchange of artistic ideas, storytelling, and personal narratives serving as a catalyst for mutual understanding and appreciation of each other's cultures.

The 12 podcast episodes have developed through online conversations, pairing the writers to reflect and explore themes that connect their pieces resulting in six duets:

Theme: Human displacement and connection

Episode 1: Like Betty

by Mufaro Makubika (a playwright of African descent; Nottingham)

Drawing strength from a neighbour

Episode 2: The Tigris Balcony

by Ali Muhammed (Communication engineer’ Baghdad)

A place to uplift the soul

Theme: Kindred spirits

Episode 3: The Legend of the River Mumma

by Cara Thompson (poet, artivist and self-described ‘Black Wellness Warrior’; Nottingham)

A story retold

Episode 4: The Voices in My Head

by Mina Ali Shareef (an educational content creator;Baghdad)

A sharing of loss

Theme: Perceptions of women

Episode 5: Hydra

by Georgina Wilding (a poet and performer; Nottingham)

A Greek myth re-imagined

Episode 6: Ishtar makes films in Baghdad

by Budoor Al Abid (digital content maker with a master’s degree in computer science; Baghdad)

Women boundary breakers

Theme: Hope within hopelessness

Episode 7: Hope is the Thing With Feathers

by Leanne Moden (poet and theatre-maker; Nottingham)

A tale of nurture and flight

Episode 8: Baghdad: A Masterpiece of the Helpless

by Mubeen Khishany (Iraqi poet and journalist)

An elegy for a lost city

Theme: Seeds of change

Episode 9: Palm Tree Orchard

by Sijal AL- Rekabi (a poet with a PhD in Aquatic Microbiology from the University of Reading; Baghdad)

A symbol of the nation

Episode 10: The Willows

by Michael Pinchbeck (writer, director and theatre-maker; Nottingham)

A canopy that embraces generations

Theme: Fragile cities

Episode 11: Shock Waves

by Andy Barrett (writer, researcher and theatremaker; Nottingham)

Broken promises and new beginnings

Episode 12: City on the Richter Scale

by Sadek Mohammed (poet, translator, essayist and academic; Baghdad)

A contemplation of a blood-stained city

The British Council is proud to have played a pivotal role in the Where I Belong project, which exemplifies its mission to create connections, inspire dialogue, and foster lasting cultural exchanges. Through initiatives like this, striving to build bridges, promote understanding, and celebrating the transformative power of the arts in bringing people and communities together.

This is the second podcast series from New Perspectives; their first series, PlacePrints by playwright David Rudkin, unearthed hidden stories in ten places across the UK and was voiced by actors including Toby Jones, Josie Lawrence and Juliet Stevenson.

Artistic Director Angharad Jones said, “The experience of bringing together this diverse and eclectic mix of artists goes way beyond the production of this podcast series. The conversations that have taken place across continents allowed these writers to share their truths about the place they call home.

“These 12 original pieces from two very different citiies have been created through a process of sharing and exchange. Some are are filled with hope, others despair, some come as a warning and others a call for change. All are a comment on the places where we live. Starting relationships with writers and artists from across Baghdad and Nottingham has been a tremendously rich experience for us all and we hope this will be the beginning of futue collaborations crossing countries, cultures and continents and cities. What is abundantly clear from Where I Belong is the immense talent that lies in both cities and the need to be heard – mostly recorded in the writers own voices responding to themes as a series of duets.”

New Perspectives’ Executive Director Sally Anne Tye has said, “The pairing of Mufaro Makukia (Nottingham) and Ali Muhammed (Baghdad) lead to conversations about identity, people, places and a sense of belonging. When Ali returns to his home city of Baghdad we are transported to his Tigris Balcony, stirring up his childhood memories, Agatha Christie’s relationship with the city and preserving roots. In Like Betty Mufaro captures the safety within 4 walls experienced by so many people through the pandemic, the importance of human relationships and new beginnings. Each piece is set again their home backdrop offering a unique window into UNESCO cities of literature Nottingham and Baghdad.”

New Perspectives is an East Midlands based company with nearly 50 years’ experience of touring high-quality productions to venues of all sizes across the UK, from mid-scale theatres to village halls. With a strong rural core, they create productions to fit spaces of any size in order to bring new work that is unexpected and thought-provoking to a wide range of audiences. Through the pandemic their series PlacePrints, ranked the UK’s 25th most popular fiction podcast (2020) is currently available. Other recent productions have included their co-production of We Need New Names with Fifth Word, the internationally successful postcard drama Love From Cleethorpes which reached over 2,400 letterboxes and the release of the Audiobook Voice of The Fire by Alan Moore, marking the 25th anniversary of the Northampton-set book. In 2021, Angharad Jones was appointed as their Artistic Director/CEO; assistant director of the company’s award-winning production of The Fishermen.

Listings information

Released in August 2023

Available on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify and major podcast directories

Supported by the British Council Arts and Audience Grant Scheme