How Do We Explain This Year to Our Kids? Forthcoming Book 'Alt-Write' Aims to Tell a Different Story

Ben Okri, Carol Ann Duffy and Frank Cottrell Boyce are among the contributors to Alt-Write, a new collection of writing from major authors intended to “debunk xenophobic myths and … help [readers] discover the natural human quality of empathy”.


Okri is contributing his poem Grenfell Tower, June 2017, written after the disaster, Cottrell Boyce has written a “fable about the lost”, The Burning Bush, and Duffy is donating her poem History to the anthology. Aimed at young adults, with all profits to go to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the anthology, subtitled “Creative reactions to uncertain times”, will feature work from 50 authors and illustrators who also include Benjamin Zephaniah, Piers Torday, Michael Rosen, Chris Riddell, Sarah McIntyre, Celia Rees, Philip Ardagh, Alex Wheatle and Jackie Kay.

“In 2003, we did a first anthology, Lines in the Sand – Iraq was about to be invaded, and we thought what could we do,” said Hoffman, a children’s author and publisher. “I thought in February – we have to do this all over again. We are really living through terrible times.”

Alan Gibbons has contributed a storyThe Boy Who Didn’t Speak, about a refugee who drowned, to the collection. He said: “Our role is to debunk xenophobic myths and make people think, help them discover the natural human quality of empathy.”

Laura Padoan, a spokeswoman for UNHCR, said: “It’s wonderful that so many great literary voices are contributing their creativity and compassion to this project, and showing that they stand with refugees.”

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