Before it’s too late

Detail from Hanover and Tennant Street, District Six by Solly Gutman
Detail from ‘Hanover and Tennant Streets’ by Solly Gutman

Come sit with me
here on the stoep
and tell me your stories.

Tell me about
when you were a girl
with a flower in your hair
on the first day of spring.

Tell me about
the games you played,
the friends you made
and the songs you sang.

Tell me about
the parades and parties,
the festivals and dances
and the secret stolen kisses.

Tell me about
the man you married,
the children you had
and the plans that you made.

What were your hopes?
What were your dreams?
Who was the woman you wanted to be?

Come sit with me
and sip your tea, and
tell me your stories.

 

The #WritingMyCity book anthology

writingmycity new pic by mak1one
Image: Mak1one

I came across this interview yesterday about the #WritingMyCity project in which I participated as a facilitator and writer a few month’s ago.

I was particularly excited that our little group, who are part of the Women for Change programme, got a mention. Their stories obviously struck a chord even if they didn’t make it into this particular collection.

Here’s an extract from the interview:

***

Q. Tell us about the fantastic book project ‘Writing My City’

A. There are so many people with wonderful stories but rarely a vehicle to share them. To help people do this, Cape Town libraries offered creative-writing workshops earlier this year. Now we’re launching a collection of everyday Capetonians’ stories about living in the city.

Q. The project is an incredible collaboration with local libraries across the city. What is your experience of connecting with these very diverse community hubs?

A. I was so impressed with the librarians who took on this challenge. It was heart-warming that each participating library had passionate teachers, writers and poets who freely gave their time and expertise to facilitate the workshops and to help would-be writers pull their stories together.

Q. It must have been exciting getting such diverse perspectives on Cape Town. What kinds of submissions really moved you?

A. As part of the workshops, the Women for Change Group had a chance to share their stories. I cried when I heard of mothers talking about losing their children, abuse and dependencies. I also embraced how they helped each other through these experiences as one big family.

 ***

That last paragraph is so important to me. When the ladies eventually felt able to tell me their experiences I was incredibly humbled and moved.

The collection is going to be launched at an event at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town in September. I’m looking forward to attending.

A copy of the anthology will be in more than 100 libraries across the city, so it will be available to a wide audience. Books don’t come cheap in this country. Copies of the book will be sold at the Open Book Festival in September. It will be awesome to see my words in print alongside the other 39 chosen Capetonians.

 


Read the full interview with Christelle Lubbe, of the City of Cape Town’s Library and Information Services, and Frankie Murrey, Co-ordinator of the Open Book Festival by Carla Lever on Times Live

Submission Day – we did it!

Open Book Cape Town

Well, if you’ve been following my #writingmycity project journey, you’ll know we’ve had a few challenges along the way. Now we’ve come to the end of this particular road and there’s really good news.

Stories have been written, author’s bios have been composed and now our entries to the project are ready to go.

How pleased and proud I am of this group of women. They’ve produced disturbing, gut-wrenching and thought-provoking stories. There’s been anger, there’s still sadness but there is definitely hope.

These stories may not be selected for the Cape Town Library Book, but they will certainly give the selection panel food for thought. I don’t know what image of the ‘Mother City’ the editors of the publication intend to portray, but members of the Suiderstrand Library writing group have borne vivid witness to the gritty, dirty underbelly of beautiful Cape Town.

The voices of these strong women deserve to be heard. My thanks to every one of them for sharing their stories with such bravery and honesty.

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