Since its conception, Overhear has collaborated with three local and one international literature festivals as part of ACE-funded projects, hosted various partners’ original content and concieved and facilitated workshops both independently and as part of larger projects.
As part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival. Residents of the Soho Road and Handsworth have been sharing their stories of migration during curated walks with Black Heritage Walks Network and Overhear workshops asking them to consider their own connection to the place.
Their stories have been turned into audio pieces that, along with newly commissioned poems, have been pinned to the map.
Re:Versing the Sherbourne is a BBC Contains Strong Language project that traces the route of the ‘hidden’ River Sherbourne as it flows across Coventry, under pavements and through the heart of the city. Working with the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Sherbourne Valley Project, poets have created a digital trail of poems tracing the river’s route and rediscovering it afresh.
As part of Birmingham 68, Flatpack Film Festival’s project exploring the city’s colourful past, we worked together to create an engaging and accessible solution to bringing the amazing research they’d done to life. We listened through several hours of archive material from Flatpack’s book This Way to the Revolution to curate a map of memories for people to explore.
The end result was a 15-mile bike ride passing through key locations in the story of ‘New Birmingham’ coming to be: The Great Hall at the University of Birmingham which was occupied by over 1000 students for 8 days in late ‘68, the Digbeth Church that became a biker coffee bar and the spot where anti-racist protesters marched against Enoch Powell among others.
When protestors in Bristol brought down a monument to slave trader Edward Colston in their city, it sparked a national conversation about the value and purpose of public art in our lives. Given that Overhear is all about giving people the power to write their own narratives onto their spaces, we thought it was the perfect subject for a workshop.
In-house facilitators Adrian B. Earle and Kibriya Mehrban guided participants through a day of discussion and writing exercises over Zoom, supporting people through group talks as well as one-to-one feedback sessions. After a week to edit and record, the result was a cluster of amazing, thoughtful poems pinned to statues and sculptures all over Birmingham and the Black Country.among others.
BIRMINGHAM LITERATURE FESTIVAL 2018
In Autumn 2018, we worked in collaboration with Birmingham Literature Festival to add a little something extra to their programme. We commissioned 12 writers to create bespoke poems (and one short story!) inspired by venues around the city centre, where BLF were hosting events.
Pieces ranged from Susan Stokes Chapman’s deeply researched history-of poem for Syrian restaurant Damascena to Jacqui Rowe’s scavenger hunt, which gave voices to figures in paintings hung in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s Round Room to Romalyn Ante’s poem for Tiger Bites Pig, which pondered on the importance of food for overseas workers looking for comfort and community.
With the help of Ben Waddington, director at Still Walking, we helped selected poets curate walking tours as part of the BLF programme. Poets guided groups around the city and shared their view of the world, collecting recordings, performing their work in situ and encouraging participants to write their own responses to the experience.
“Working with Overhear has been a terrific experience, both for our Birmingham Literature Festival audiences and the many writers we have been able to involve. New work has been made and new audiences discovered and Tom and his team have been both creative and entrepreneurial in their approach. It has been a pleasure to work with them.”
Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive, Writing West Midlands.