Sandwell Stories is an audio project produced by Multistory where we talk to, and share, everyday experiences of local people. You can listen here.
The second series of Multistory’s podcast series is told through the voices of four poets and looks at the past and the present, the lives of a new generation, and a desire to belong. Mothers and fathers; sons and daughters; young people making a mark on the streets of Sandwell.
Roy McFarlane begins with stories from young fathers and shares memories of those who have passed over: an ode to the different stages of fatherhood. Kuli Kohli takes us back to the turn of the millennium in the time of a crisis and the birth of a premature baby, mix-taped with rap from her eldest son. Casey Bailey evokes a new generation’s desire to be seen; stories of young people ‘asking for a tomorrow’. And Rupinder Kaur poeticises a daughter and mother relationship with a tongue that holds three languages.
These are the stories formed and fleshed in the soil and given breath by voices of the Black Country.
This series was launched on 27 October 2020 and we held a special event with all the poets on 8 November 2020
Casey Bailey is a writer, performer and educator, born and raised in Nechells, Birmingham, UK. Casey is the Birmingham Poet Laureate 2020 – 2022. Casey released his debut full collection of poetry, ‘Adjusted’ in 2018 with Verve Poetry Press and his second collection Please Do Not Touch will be published by Burning Eye in 2021. Casey’s play ‘GrimeBoy’ has been commissioned by the Birmingham Rep. Casey’s poetry has featured in a number of anthologies and he was commissioned by the BBC to write ‘The Ballad of The Peaky Blinders’ in 2019. He has performed his poetry nationally, and internationally.
Casey’s contribution as a writer, as an educator and dedicated member of his community have been recognised by the Birmingham Mail’s ‘Birmingham Live’, leading to him being named as one of Birmingham’s ’30 under 30’ of 2018. Casey was also recognised in 2019 when he was made a Fellow of the University of Worcester.
Rupinder Kaur is a Birmingham Panjabi poet, performer and creative curator. Her debut poetry book Rooh (2018) was published with Verve Poetry Press. She has also been featured in SPAKE Dialect and Voices from the West Midlands (2019) edited by Urszula Clark and Jonathan Davidson published by Ninearches press along with other publications. Rupinder’s work explores womanhood, language, culture and history. She has featured at nights and festivals across the UK, performed at Pass of Mic for Festival of Audacity partnership with Beatfreaks, BBC world music day and BBC Asian network (2018). Rupinder also works as workshop facilitator within the community and schools to create awareness about poetry.
She is the founder of Azaad Arts which aims to explore traditional and contemporary arts within South Asia connecting strands of film, theatre, art and literature together within the Diaspora. Also co-founder of Gully Collective which aims to create multidisciplinary zines to platform the voices of South Asian creatives. Previous projects include Sada Chidiyan da chamba (our temporary nest of birds) – Exploring Panjabi Wedding folk songs through a female narrative supported by the Creative Black Country Open Access Seed Award and co-produced by Slanguages, Creative Multilingualism (2020). She was recently awarded DYCP from Arts Council England to work on her next poetry collection. And is currently a BBC New Creative developing an audio piece. Jugni is a play, co-written by Rupinder, commissioned by Slanguages – Creative Multilingualism due to be performed next year. On her days off writing she’s mostly living her retro Bollywood dreams.
Indian born, Kuli Kohli runs a Punjabi Women’s Writing Group and helps run Blakenhall Writers’ Group. She writes a regular blog for Disability Arts Online. Her debut poetry pamphlet Patchwork is published by Offa’s Press. She’s performed her work around the West Midlands, London, Liverpool, Oswestry and via Skype to India. She was a guest lecturer at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. In December 2019, she performed at the British Museum for the Purple Light Up event celebrating International Disabled Persons Day. In 2020, Kuli’s life story was featured on BBC News online which lead to her being filmed for BBC one’s Sunday Morning Live show in September 2020.
Roy McFarlane is a writer and poet born in Birmingham of Jamaican parentage and spent most of his years living in Wolverhampton and the surrounding Black Country. He has held the role of the Birmingham Poet Laureate, been the Starbucks Poet in Residence and is currently the Birmingham & Midlands Institute Poet in Residence. His debut collection, Beginning With Your Last Breath was followed by The Healing Next Time, (Nine Arches Press 2018) nominated for the Ted Hughes award, Jhalak Prize, a Poetry Book Society recommendation and selected by the Guardian as one of the best poetry titles of 2018.
He has also co-edited an anthology of poems by locally based artists, Celebrate Wha’? – Ten Black British Poets from the Midlands (Smokestack 2011) and was featured in the major 2012 anthology of Black and Asian poetry, Out of Bounds: British Black and Asian Poets. He’s also a graduate of the MA in Writing Poetry with Newcastle University and he’s presently a Jerwood Bursary recipient looking at mothers and daughters of Windrush.
In the first series, Multistory recorded stories with people they met on the streets, at home and in the workplace, from life-long market traders to college students, tea dancers to newly arrived families. They covered topics such as family values, the role of women in communities and social history. Do listen to series 1 here if you haven’t already or see a list of episodes here. The project team included Emma Case (Project Manager & Producer), Robert Alexander (sound recordist and editor), Emma Purshouse (Narrator). In addition to the podcasts we produced an exhibition of photographs that showcased portraits by photographer Emma Case, taken while interviewing local people for the ongoing audio project, which toured to Sandwell Libraries in 2019. The exhibition weaved together the words of people from Sandwell with their portraits, enabling the public to access a growing oral and visual archive of contemporary, everyday stories.