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BooksfromScotland are delighted to welcome back the Scottish BPOC Writers Network to guest edit this month's issue based round the theme of Sanctuary. Here you will find poetry, fiction, children's books and essays from established and up-and-coming writers with books that will enrich and entertain.

The Scottish BPOC Writers Network (SBWN) provides advocacy, literary events and professional development opportunities for BPOC writers based in or from Scotland. SBWN aims to connect Scottish BPOC writers with the wider literary sector in Scotland. The network seeks to partner with literary organisations to facilitate necessary conversations around inclusive programming in an effort to address and overcome systemic barriers. SBWN prioritises BPOC-led opportunities and is keen to bring focus to diverse literary voices while remaining as accessible as possible to marginalised groups.

What is sanctuary?

The term is often used for a place of safety, but we often forget that with that safety comes the implication of danger elsewhere, of a hostile world to which sanctuary is the exception, not the rule. In medieval Europe, a person might have sought sanctuary in a church when fleeing persecution (or prosecution) from authorities – in other words, from a power structure that wished to remove their agency and being.

Today, although people are no longer fleeing to places of worship as means of legal escape, the essential concept of sanctuary has not changed all that much. Sanctuaries still exist as spaces where those who refuse to give in to society’s attempts to erase them can come together in safety. The Scottish BPOC Writers Network (SBWN) is one such space, conceived in 2018 as a sanctuary for Scotland’s writers of colour to develop and flourish away from the confines, pressures, and prejudices of spaces dominated by whiteness.

But we could not exist, as a sanctuary or really in any other respect, without the amazing writers of our network – some of whose work you’ll read in this month’s issue – so we reached out to them on social media to find out how they defined the concept of ‘sanctuary’. Among the comments we received were these thought-provoking responses:

 

‘Sanctuary for me is the place where there is warmth, people that understand you and a place with no judgement but a blanket to keep you safe. Allowing you to be the person you are’ – Sanjay Lago

Community is a key aspect of the safety that sanctuary provides. Going back to the medieval European example, the sanctuary of the church was sustained by the people who worshiped there, the clergy who presided over services, and the staff who kept its daily affairs running smoothly; the building may have served as the physical site of sanctuary, but the reality of that sanctuary depend...

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Lorraine Wilson is an up-and-coming writer of gothic, dystopian fantasy novels. Her second novel The Way The Light Bends will be released later this year by Luna Press Publishing. Here she writes of her work mentoring aspiring writers.

 

Perhaps the greatest thing about being a writer is the communities you discover – a group of fellow debuts, your trusted Critique Partners, genre peers … or writers who are similarly marginalised. It is an uncomfortable truth that while the community is wonderful, institutional change leaves a lot to be desired. We all know the stats and have heard enough anecdotes to suspect the stats are only the tip of the iceberg. Marginalised writers are confronted time and again with proof that the publishing industry should value us more. Instead, it often favours habit and comfort over uncomfortable change, and even those ‘like us’ who have succeeded can still be on the outside the moment the wagons circle. This c...

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ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

Nasim Asl Interviews: Maisie Chan click

Nasim Asl Interviews: Maisie Chan

‘I wanted to pay homage to Strictly and all those production companies that were in bubbles and sacrificed to make content.’

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Another Way to Split Water: A Q & A with Alycia Pirmohamed click

Another Way to Split Water: A Q & A with Alycia Pirmohamed

‘I feel water is so rich with imagistic and metaphorical potential, being a reflective surface as well as a site of nourishment, suspension, and erosion. I’ve been circling this idea of water as both …

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Nikki Kilburn on Hadithi and the State of Black Speculative Fiction click

Nikki Kilburn on Hadithi and the State of Black Speculative Fiction

‘Hadithi is many wonderous things including a journey into black ancestry.’

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New Skin for Old Ceremony click

New Skin for Old Ceremony

‘It was unsettling. No dread nor excitement, no fear nor quiet confidence. Nothing. Just a dull acknowledgement of what many call a miracle.’

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Re: Creation click

Re: Creation

‘You’ll find work that surprises you, that confronts you, and work that intrigues you.’

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Threads Across Borders: Introducing Shasta Ali click

Threads Across Borders: Introducing Shasta Ali

‘And like threads across borders stories unite and weave communities together just as a single silk thread drifting in the wind carries strength in its own tale’

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Leela Soma on The Kavya Prize click

Leela Soma on The Kavya Prize

‘The Kavya Prize will empower them to raise their voices, tell their stories and reach a wider audience.’

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Only on the Weekends click

Only on the Weekends

‘I can hear them all Cheering for us, Proud of our achievement, As if it were theirs. Because it is theirs. We didn’t get here on our own.’

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Blood Salt Spring: The Making of a Collection click

Blood Salt Spring: The Making of a Collection

‘I am more than a sum of my parts… I am all of my parts – all at once.’

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Imperium click

Imperium

‘some say to reciprocate his extension of hospitality and glorious resourcefulness some say to be occupied indefinitely some say to survive is the most beautiful thing’

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From Murky Waters We Rise click

From Murky Waters We Rise

‘i remember that i love you now as much as i did when we first met and i wish i had told you that once more.’

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Wacera Kamonji: Finding Sanctuary in our Communities click

Wacera Kamonji: Finding Sanctuary in our Communities

‘Writing allows you to discover your thoughts and work through emotions, create worlds, and communicate to those around you.’

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