Collective residencies / Migration and refugee movements in the 21st century / Olot


From Tuesday, 1 February 2022 to Friday, 11 February 2022

Equality and human rights specialist and writer
New Zealand


Margaret Flaws is a writer, poet and lifelong human rights and equality campaigner, communicator and educator, including on refugee, asylum and migration issues. She works on rights to healthcare and pulls together coalitions and networks for change. Her academic work as a sociologist focused on ethnicity, conflict and exclusion in relation to asylum policy.

She has been a public advocate, media spokesperson and worked in television making equality and human rights programmes. She has also developed and run services for people with HIV and AIDS, refugees and asylum seekers, homeless people, and people affected by trauma.


My writing project is tentatively titled Precarious Journeys, a poetry cycle about migrant and refugee journeys into Europe and the barriers that are put up to stop them.

These poems, which centre on various points around Europe, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic coasts and England, will highlight the experience of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees and draw attention to the extraordinary current developments in fortifying countries to keep people out.

I have chosen poetry for this project because I believe that poetry, as a form of storytelling, can be a powerful catalyst for changing how we see the world.

Developing poetry on migration and refugees in Olot

I came to the Faberllull residency on migration and refugees in the 21st century to develop a cycle of poetry on the current situation of migrants and refugees crossing borders into Europe. The themes of the poetry include the experiences of people on their journeys and the barriers that are in place and being put in place to stop them. I am also writing about the historical connections of exile and migration in this region. With Faberllull’s support, I was able to visit the area where hundreds of thousands of Spanish people crossed the Pyrenees towards the end of the Spanish Civil War and where, later during World War 2, people crossed through Spain to escape Nazism.

The residency was a fantastic opportunity to clarify and plan the project, to develop the themes, to research. But the thematic residency at Olot was something else - it was the wonderful experience of being with others working deeply on this topic and sharing and learning from them. It was a joy to be in a stunning place, not only with time to research, plan and write but also to share special times everyday together with a brilliant group of people. Talking, debating, learning from each other. It was also good that some people who were unable to travel were able to participate with us online.

The environment in and around Olot is stunning and La Garrotxa has a very special energy and the Faberllull team Gavina and Pepa were an enormous support to us everyday.

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