Introducing the Reclaim Collective
The Reclaim Collective are a group of Warwick students using poetry to voice their experiences and to express themselves. They are pioneering a movement to enhance poetic activity via many actions, including open mics, workshops and collaborations. They are currently celebrating the news that their latest anthology, On Blackness and Belonging, will be archived in Warwick’s very own Modern Records Centre. The group strives to hold poetry events that foster community spirit and provide a safe space for marginalised voices. I interviewed Nosa Charles-Novia about her work, her perspectives, the background of the Reclaim Collective and what is to come next.
They hope to incorporate a bigger variety of marginalised voices
Nosa described how the collective goes beyond poets; they include creatives such as photographers and illustrators; all on a mission to search for truth and to empower and be empowered. She highlighted how poetry can be used as a tool to explore ourselves and to facilitate discussion. This exploration of truth runs at the core of Nosa’s personal endeavours. But why poetry? It offers fluidity and flexibility not found anywhere else. Language gives us the means to construct worlds, archive stories and extract what truly matters to us. But has this been well-received at Warwick? The first anthology shed valuable light on the experiences of black Warwick students but this is just the beginning. As the collective gains more traction, they hope to incorporate a bigger variety of marginalised voices. Reclaim registered as a social enterprise to align with a vision spanning beyond Warwick. The journey from ideas to anthology was not entirely smooth and Nosa spoke about delays, the administrative burden and the complexity of applying for funding. She worked with Warwick’s IATL department which backed the project however, the briefing was based on ‘co-collaboration’; the partnership between students and staff members was difficult considering the low number of black people on the Warwick staff. She eventually worked alongside a PhD student and the funds went towards the publication, paying the contributing creatives as well as impressive guest speakers such as West-Midlands-based poet, Siana Bangura.
There is a richness in creating a space for personal perception
On Blackness and Belonging authentically archives the experiences of black Warwick students. Nosa had observed how the conversation on race seems to rotate around the same few stories and were often led by non-black voices. This anthology provides a repository of individual experiences but is also filled with tension and fracture, which is central to identity and understanding race. The diversity of the contributing poets displays a broad variety of opinions and includes dissonance in linguistics and in questioning nationality; what or where is home. These contradictions are what make the work so vivid and prove the power behind poetry and boosting marginalised voices. There is a richness in creating a space for personal perception and this follows a rich lineage of writers such as Frantz Fanon.
The anthology is available to buy on amazon and there is a second volume on the way. Readers will have to stay tuned for what is to come regarding the next anthology, but Nosa emphasises the non-singular quality of identity and the collective invites creatives of any marginal identity to explore their own versions of the truth. Yet, this also made me think – what is the future of the Reclaim Collective?
The priority is exposure; it’s time to get the word out. They would also like to hold more workshops and collaborations such as the recent event with Black Untitled. This was a writing workshop exploring the self. Nosa speaks of the importance of safe spaces like this, where people feel comfortable not only writing but begin reading and performing their own work. They hope to facilitate more spaces and also branch out into more areas and empower other communities. The first anthology has galvanised a creative process and made a powerful impression. It has been many writers’ first publication, which is a significant springboard into the creative industry and provides them with one foot in the door.