‘the other side of hope: journeys in refugee and immigrant literature’ is a UK-based yearly literary magazine edited by refugees and immigrants. It’s the first magazine of its kind in the UK, and our first volume, a print and an online issue, was published in 2021.
It has had a marvellous journey so far, starting from the strange connections we as editors found with each other. Most of us were based around the East Midlands at different points in our lives. Alexandros Plasatis and I, having studied the same course in Leicester one after the other, only came across each other through ‘the other side of hope’. The very wonderful poet Malka Al-Haddad is currently based in Leicester and an untiring voice for the refugee cause. Maria Rovisco, with a world of anthropological knowledge, Olivier Llouquet, whose work was long based around the East Midlands, and many other people that Alexandros has met have been brought together in this necessary creation.
It is precisely these connections that made our journey through refugee and immigrant literature the inspiring and humbling experience it has been.
I am part of a community. A community that is not just a safe haven for our stories, fiction, poems, books, art: it is empowering.
Joining the initiative to start this magazine, I was a writer. Having come out the other side of a hopeful and work-filled year, I am an immigrant, an editor, a storyteller with a unique journey through my life – and most importantly, I am part of a community. A community that is not just a safe haven for our stories, fiction, poems, books, art: it is empowering.
‘the other side of hope’ has published fearlessly, writing from and about refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers. We have consciously published daring writing that is honest. Pieces that will have you laughing, and those that will make you sad; but most importantly, it is fresh art that makes one think, learn, grow.
We have had hundreds of submissions, discussed them, and got to know the writers. I cannot fail to mention here the help of Arts Council England and support from ArtReach, Journeys International Festival – a refugee festival that takes place every year in Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth, and our two patrons A. M. Dassu, who is based in Leicestershire, and Lord Alf Dubs.
Our connection with the Midlands is strong in our publication too. ‘Water runs down my eyes as I see no light ahead’ is a wonderful and heart-breaking poem that we published in our print issue, written by a Nottinghamshire-based refugee under the penname ‘Flower’, who had spent three months in Yarl Wood immigration detention centre. Loraine Masiya Mponela is based in Coventry, and her touching, sad poem, ‘Don’t come back here’, was published in our online issue.
It is funding and advertising, and in some cases – clever thinking, that has given us the chance to pay our writers, solidify their crucial work in telling the stories we all need to know, and even nominate for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, PEN awards, and others. (Can I just say how cool it is that I had the opportunity to nominate someone for the Pushcart Prize – so very cool.)
We are now open to submissions again, with a few changes in the crew. Keep your eyes peeled, follow us on social media, check out our website, and please, continue buying the print magazine. Continue reading and informing the world that a community started with one man working with Writing East Midlands and is now stretching its arms around all sides of hope.
Rubina Bala, fiction editor, at ‘the other side of hope: journeys in refugee and immigrant literature’. Edited by immigrants and refugees, the UK-based literary magazine “The Other Side of Hope” publishes refugee and immigrant writers from across the world. They published their first print and online issues and will be re-opening their submission window next month. Find them online, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.