Monday, January 07, 2013

Literature for Social Change

I wanted to direct your attention towards a blog post by my wise and talented friend Sue Guiney. It's a reprint of her article in the recent issue of "The Author", the magazine of the UK's Society of Authors, and its subject is literature for social change. What Sue wrote really made me think, and her topic is an important one, especially in this strange time here in the UK where the new school leaving exam seems to be dropping Arts subjects. Here's a taster of what happened after Sue's 2nd novel, A Clash of Innocents, set in Cambodia, was published:

I am a writer. I write stories about people I make up. So that should have been the end of it, right? Wrong, because the best part of the story was yet to come.
Many of us are lucky enough to go off and be inspired. Some of us can then create something out of that inspiration. But I realised I was one of the happy few who could bring the fruit of that inspiration back to the people who inspired me in the first place. And so I connected with a shelter in Siem Reap called Anjali House, which provides support for street kids and their families, and through them I founded a writing workshop for their teenagers. There I teach them to write poetry and stories in English, we publish a literary magazine, and then we hold a party where the kids stand up in front of a room of supporters and read from their work. I am now committed to running this programme three times a year, once on-site in Siem Reap, the other times via the internet.
When I came back to London from Cambodia after first setting up the workshop, everyone congratulated me. ‘What an incredible thing you’ve done!’ they all said. ‘How did you ever think of it?’ Everyone was amazed. But I was amazed by their reaction. I didn’t do anything special. I didn’t believe there was anything unusual about me that led to this attempt at social change.

... Read the rest of Sue's article here, and leave your thoughts on writing and social activism, it's something really worth discussing.


Sue Guiney said...

Thanks so much for spreading this around, and thanks for all the support you give me! xo

Rachel Fenton said...

So good to read such a positive story. Well done, Sue, for using your voice for others.

chillcat said...

Brilliant and inspiring. It's so good to writing to the next level.