Challenging Discrimination One Poem at A Time – Shelley Tracey

On Thursday 22nd September, Community Arts Partnership hosted an event which celebrated both Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week, and was connected to the international movement, One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change. This is an annual event, which takes place in the last week of September in over 100 countries.

This event is an opportunity for poets to come together and raise their voices for change and protest in the most articulate way possible about all forms of discrimination.

The website dedicated to the event says that

“The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, activists to get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community.”

It goes on to say,

“We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbours down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity. And of course there is the political/social change that many of us are talking about these days. There is trouble in the world. Wars, violation of human rights, ecocide, racism, genocide, gender inequality, homelessness, the lack of affordable medical care, police brutality, religious persecution, poverty, censorship, animal cruelty, the list goes on and on. It appears that transformation towards a more sustainable world is a major concern and could be a global guiding principle for 100 TPC events.

Peace also seems to be a common cause. War is not sustainable. There is an increasing sense that we need to move forward and stop moving backwards. But we are not trying not to be dogmatic. We hope that together we can develop our ideas of the “change/transformation” we are looking for as a global community, and that each local community group will decide their own specific area of focus for change for their particular event. All we ask is that local communities organize events about change within the guidelines of peace and sustainability.”

At the Belfast event, participants read or performed their own poems, some composed for the occasion, as well as reading poems by favourite writers.

Poet and Writer – Chelley McLear (Founder of Love Poetry Hate Racism)

All aspects of discrimination were addressed, issues ranging from homophobia, racism, misogyny, and prejudice against refugees.

Poet and community art facilitator Shelley Tracey, who organised the event, thanked CAP for their generous hospitality and everybody for their contributions.

A similar event will take place next year.

The evening ended with a group reading of one of the most famous poems about discrimination, ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

From And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou


If you would like more information regarding One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change you can go the following website –

artist forms link
New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.