The Reclaim Project: ‘On Blackness and Belonging’
There are many opportunities to do things at university, but if the ones that you want aren’t there you have to make them for yourself. I was lucky to be a part of another student’s venture to make waves for herself, to bring her vision to life.
‘The Reclaim Project’ is a collective whose purpose is to create discussions about blackness through conversation and published writing such as poetry (their Instagram is @thereclaimc0llective). It was formed and led by third-year Film and Media studies student Nosa Charles-Novia. For the first project, she and her team endeavoured to create a poetry anthology giving a platform to various Warwick students from different backgrounds to voice their own take on blackness, with the help and funding from the IATL department.
I stumbled upon The Reclaim Project’s poetry submission prompt for ‘The Black Question’ in January and immediately wanted to submit something. I pulled different ideas together about identity and fractures, what being black means to me, and the reservations that I had about those ideas. I wrote down all that I wanted to include within the poem and set about forming how I wanted to say the words. I have been writing poetry ever since I can remember, but at that time I had come upon writer’s block, and I had doubts about what I was able to create.
But still, I finished the poem and submitted it. Yet immediately after I did this, I sent in another email to say that they should forget it. The poem wasn’t what I wanted it to be – it wasn’t saying what I wanted it to say or how I wanted to say it. It wasn’t good enough. And there wasn’t enough time to change that.
But as I saw Nosa in the coming weeks, she gave me more time and prompted me to submit again. So I continued to work on the poem. In the meantime, another prompt – “Of Fracture and Finding” – was opened, where poets were to explore ‘the fracture and vulnerabilities within the concept of the black identity’. After some time, another prompt was also opened, which was “Afrofuturism, the black future”, where writers explored what Afrofuturism meant to them.
Finally, I finished my poem, titled, as the section was, ‘The Black Question’. I then set about writing another for the Afrofuturism prompt, but by the time the inspiration and the words came, it was too late. The anthology was already being formed. As much as a shame that was, I was still a part of something so much bigger than myself, something I couldn’t wait to be brought to life.
On the 7th of May, the launch event for the anthology took place in the Oculus, where a handful of the authors performed their poetry, as well as guest performances from Siana Bangura, Boaz Adelekan and Aisosa Egharevba. It was an amazing event with panel discussions from each of the performers, where we discussed the topics of our poetry as well as answered in-depth questions which were pre-set, but also given by the audience. It truly was a thought-provoking night where I got to hear the views of other people about blackness – and blackness in different contexts – and to see how their views differed from my own.
Now with the launch event over, the poetry anthology, which is organised into three sections: The Black Question, On Fracture and Finding, and Sankofa – which was what the Afrofuturism prompt was renamed to, is officially out and available to buy on Amazon. You can find the anthology here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09ZCTK234?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860
It’s honestly so crazy to have been involved in this whole process and is something that I will be forever grateful to have been a part of. It really made me see that if you want to create something or if you have a vision for something, all you need is a supportive team of people to help you and hold you accountable, but crucially drive enough to see it through. The same goes for anyone else with a vision: if you truly want to see it come to life, find like-minded people who will help you grow – you doing the same for them also – to be able to realise your greatest projects, and believe in it also. The world is waiting for what you have to offer!
Congrats Mine! Such a lovely message