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The Stare from a butterfly’s wings

Today marks the beginning of week 5 at this year’s Summer Institute. As we approach the end of an intense 5 weeks and enter the final week of the Summer Institute, we wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on how it all began, with our official opening ceremony, where we welcomed the 2016 Cohort.

The opening ceremony saw speeches from our Chief Executive, Josh MacAlister, Board member Baroness Morgan, and current participants, Dhivya (2015 Cohort) and John (2014 Cohort). 

Karl Lokko, a former gang leader, activist, community worker and campaigner working to reform gang culture in the UK, also delivered an inspiring speech to the new cohort of participants. In it, he shared the story of how the love of a friend’s mother helped him to turn his life around, which he recounted through his poem ‘The Stare from a butterfly’s wings’. It was a great way to start the Summer Institute, with a powerful message that transformative change is possible. You can read the poem in full below:

The Stare from a butterfly’s wings
Have you ever seen the eyes on a butterfly’s wing?
Deep, like the gaze of glorified kings.
They can overwrite, they can overwhelm, eternal… Like? Like? Like they appear from another realm
Another world, another life. Yes another life
I too have known another life, another state.
I’m a walking contradiction, I should have shared another fate
I’ve known a butterfly’s fame but felt the caterpillar’s pain
My cocoon was love.
But who will love the caterpillar!? …..Drug dealer
Who love the caterpillar!?……Gang member
Who will love the caterpillar? No, they only love the butterfly
They take pictures of the butterfly
They speak scriptures of the butterfly
But they label a nuisance, we that couldn’t fly
They say the eyes are the window to the soul, so if you really look carefully, you can see the caterpillar’s pain in the eyes of the butterfly wings. It stings.
So strange is change, so great is love.
Love is my cocoon
Change is neither a contemporary art nor a recent trend.
The butterfly has been from the era Eocene
So for 50 million years it’s been standing as a proof
That change is real, that change will come.
I say cocoon to the sky!
The butterfly is an epistle that the old me can die, so that the true me may live
Now the wingless has wings, but it took awhile
Metamorphosis it took a trial, it took a hug, it took a kiss, it took a smile.
But let the truth be told
This caterpillar was a butterfly all the while
In need of a cocoon