Writing from a Warzone: Bosnia, Afghanistan & Ukraine

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, British audiences were able to see the daily experiences of war unfolding in real time, thanks to social media and broadcast journalism. We saw the shelling, the race to the bunkers, the destruction, and the despair.

Three writers join us to share their writing from war, and displacement. Priscilla Morris’ Black Butterflies is based on her grandparents’ experience of being in Sarajevo during the 1992/93 siege. Parwana Fayyaz writes poetry inspired by her Afghan heritage and her family’s displacement to Pakistan then the US and finally the UK. Lybko Deresh is a Ukrainian writer based in Kyiv, and will be joining us via video.

Chaired by Amanda Beattie from the Centre for Migration and Forced Displacement at Aston University.

This is event is supported by Aston University.

About the speakers:

Lyubko Deresh is a Ukranian writer, creative writing teacher and UNDP Ukraine tolerance envoy. Deresh has written 11 books, that were translated into German, French, Italian, Polish and other languages. His latest novel, “Where the wind blows” (2021), was dedicated to the tensions between a ‘cancelled’ artist and the society within pre-covid war-torn Ukraine. Due to the British Council program in 2016 Lyubko Deresh spent two weeks in Arvon Foundation residence (Shropshire) and took part in Birmingham Literature Festival. In 2021 together with Writing West Midlands Deresh organized a British-Ukrainian conference “Cultura cura – Culture heals”, dedicated to the underrepresented communities, like writers from working class background in UK and Donbass war veteran writers in Ukraine, where British and Ukrainian writers, publishers, culture managers had participated.

Since 2017 Lyubko Deresh cooperates with UNDP Ukraine in reducing the polarization of public sentiments and advocating for the strengthening of dialogue in Ukrainian society.

Parwana Fayyaz is a scholar of medieval Persian poetry. She is also a poet and a translator. Born in Kabul, she was raised in Pakistan. She was educated at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh, then Stanford followed by Cambridge University to pursue a PhD in Persian Studies at Trinity College and took up a Research Fellowship as the Carmen Blacker Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge University in October 2020. Her debut collection, Forty Names, was published in 2021 by Carcanet Press, and it was named A New Statesman Book of the Year and A White Review Book of the Year.

Priscilla Morris is the daughter of a Yugoslav mother and a Cornish father. She grew up in London, spending summers in Sarajevo, and studied at Cambridge University and the University of East Anglia, where she gained her PhD in Creative Writing. In 1993, Priscilla’s father bought a flak jacket and went to Sarajevo to rescue her maternal grandparents. Her teenage London home soon filled with refugee relatives, including her mother’s uncle, a renowned landscape painter whose life’s work was destroyed during the siege. His dramatic story, alongside many months spent in Sarajevo researching the city, the war and interviewing those who experienced the siege, inspired Priscilla to write Black Butterflies, her debut novel.

Amanda Beattie is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics, History and International Relations at Aston University.  Here research interests sit at the intersection of International Ethics and Global Migration.  She is the Co-Director of the newly inaugurated Centre for Migration and Forced Displacement, an agenda-setting research centre, building links with stakeholders in the West Midlands, but also leading national and international discussions on migration research, with a specific focus on critical approaches, ethics, representation and innovative research design. 

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Birmingham Rep Theatre


Birmingham Rep Theatre
Centenary Square, Birmingham


09 Oct 2022


2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


£8 / £6.40 (concs)