Jenna Wilson, a member of the 4 Corners committee, shared this poem on the last night of the 2016 festival. We are delighted to share it with you now. Enjoy.

I am an outsider –

I must start with that.

I can only see dimly, through a slanted rain,

this Belfast that I call home.

And as I look, with wonder, fascination, concern and trepidation,

I think there is so much to celebrate

and so much still I fear.

The cold here feels colder –

the dark, darker

and as I walk the streets the wounds, yes, I cannot yet call them scars –

the wounds are tangible,

visible, impossible to erase and difficult to soothe.

The unspoken seems to carry the headlines.

The questions of the future are left in a heap in order to make sense of the past.

 

And I wonder: Is there a salve that can heal this place? Is it more tears?

Can we find the common good, the common table to share a smile, a meal, an embrace?

Can we find a story where none are left out, ostracized, blamed and victimized,

where faces have names and names mean something different than a street?

What do we need?

More politics, rhetoric, rules of engagement and realigning of pavement?

Perhaps.

 

But first, we need to listen –

To the city

to the artists

to the flute players and priests.

To the politicians and students,

the athletes and the streets.

For all voices, identities, communities, and entities need room,

Need space to breathe. To be.

To find some curiosity about difference.

 

And we need hope.

This sense that what you want to be, can be…

the stuff that helps dream become reality,

injecting a belief in the possibility of a togetherness that dreams big dreams.

 

What does a city do when the hope is hard to find?

When the present lives the past

and the past is unbearable

and the future,

the future is left out.

 

It must create its own hope.

Inch by inch,

dropping new narratives into the river.

 

Hope comes when strangers meet for prayer in Clonard

and extend a hand saying peace.

It breaks out when forgotten communities

are given a chance to speak.

It is heard in the voices of young people

overflowing with ideas and thoughts.

It seeps out when creative artists

explore the beauty of a walk.

It is heard in voices singing

to celebrate a city that’s home.

It arrives in a festival’s efforts

to encourage our feet to roam.

 

There’s healing on the horizon,

If we can but focus our ears

and listen to the hope being formed.