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The creative development has been exciting and an overwhelming of emotions, every phase has been untangling conversations around belonging and a disconnect with the home that isn’t the same of the country and culture you identify with. It is the conversation of sacrifice and how much can you compromise to fit into a place that reminds you that sometimes you don’t belong here, it is my mother’s constant reminds that I should never get too attached to Liverpool because soon that love will turn into disappointment. It is the conflict and beauty of places and accepting that you don’t have to sacrifice one home for the other.  

I had grown up in Liverpool and we would visit Yemen in the summer, my Yemen was traditional, unrelatable and not my home, it was only a summers trip to a place I was born in. The internet was the only window how I viewed home, it was American drones, child marriage, traditional gender roles, British bombs and today it is Covid-19 ‘wiping out Yemen off the map’.  Google tells me that Yemen is young men with Ak-47s, Yemen is dangerous and widespread of terrorism and I did not want to be associated with a place the world feared. 

When the war in Yemen broke out in 2015 we had planned to travel that summer to see family but the future of Yemen was not in our hands and we had prayed that the war would end anytime soon. 5 years on and we would sit around the TV waiting for updates, 5 years on I found love in Yemen and I had felt for the first time a reasonability to find the beauty of my home outside war and western-centric perspective of my home. I took it upon myself to read, read and read, network with Yemeni artists and creatives across the globe and I kept falling in love then there was regret then sadness. I would remember my summer trips and how I would sleep in car journeys and I missed out on documenting, writing, viewing the beauty of the landscapes of the urban culture, agriculture and the little houses that stand on top of the high mountains that vanished into the dark clouds.  

In 2019, I was commissioned by DadaFest for a scratch performance and I had already been developing Broken Biscuits long before I had planned it out creatively, it was an idea I wanted to explore further and with the support of Dada I was able to put on 30 minute extract of the play and receive feedback how I should develop this in the future. I asked myself, why should I invest my time in this piece of work, it was a question how I can as a creative and activist restore and reclaim parts of history that has been hidden, misplaced or undervalued. I want to change the narrative around the Middle east, retell the stories of our Yemeni ancestors and to place Yemen on the Map with the love I want the world view it, through the eyes of Yemeni-scouser lost on the streets of Liverpool. Secondly, I never met my gran-dad, I only knew him through dated photographs and the stories my family would share, through writing this play I feel sometimes I am speaking to my gran-dad. Lastly, with the outbreaks of war and hardship, the visibility and importance of the Yemeni community play a significant role globally in our society and the world is yet to know and I am part of the movement. 

Audio Adaptation of Broken Biscuits 

{Commissioned by DadaFest and supported by Liverpool Arab Arts Festival)

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Amina Atiq interviews Gran-ma Hayla.