Breaking Our Silence


2020040520200411 (R4)In 2011, poet Salma El-Wardany was part of the Arab Spring uprising in Cairo. Thousands of Egyptians came together in Tahrir Square to fight for a new future. And poetry was everywhere - spray painted on walls, shared on social media, and written into songs that became anthems for the protesters.

"It was a revolution fuelled by poetry," says Salma.

In this programme, Salma celebrates the connection between poetry and revolution. She speaks to four of her favourite female poets - all women of colour from different corners of the world, whose work fuels revolution, both personal and political.

British-Indian poet Nikita Gill sees her own work written onto placards and hears it chanted in the street on marches. She believes that, from the French Revolution to the Indian freedom struggle, writers and poets are at the forefront of change.

Yrsa Daley-Ward, award-winning writer of Bone and The Terrible, writes about topics on which women have often been silent. Her work is confronting and challenging - there's danger in telling the truth, she says.

Tjawangwa Dema argues that what, to a Western audience, might seem like a simple love poem, can be truly revolutionary when written by a woman from Botswana. There is tremendous power in an African woman telling her own story.

And Lisa Luxx shares the power of poetry to unite people into a revolutionary community, as she does by organising feminist literary salons in Beirut.

Salma believes that these poetic revolutions, and her own, all have one thing in common - they involve women speaking out, and refusing to be silenced any longer.

Producer: Hannah Marshall
A 7digital production for BBC Radio 4

Salma El-Wardany explores the link between poetry and revolution - political and personal.