THE WRITE TO RECONCILE ANTHOLOGY III LAUNCH
The Write to Reconcile AnthologyIIILaunch
Write to Reconcile announces the launch of the Write to Reconcile Anthology3 on Tuesday 28th March 2017 at the BMICH.
Write to Reconcile, now in its third year, is a creative writing project conducted under the auspices of the National Peace Council and funded by the U.S Embassy’s American Centre. It is the brainchild of the internationally renowned Sri Lankan writer, Shyam Selvadurai. The project, which took place in 2016, brought together 25 Sri Lankan and diasporic writers who were interested in writing creative pieces (fiction, memoir or poetry) on the issues of conflict, peace, reconciliation, trauma and memory, as they relate to Sri Lanka in the war and post-war period, with a special emphasis on the post-war period. At the beginning of the programme, the selected participants met for a 7 day long creative writing workshop in Anuradhapura, where they were taught the tools and techniques of creative writing and editing by Shyam Selvadurai. The participants also generated creative work during this time through in-class writing exercises. In order to stimulate thinking and creative ideas, the participants travelled to the Vanni and the Sinhala border villages, to hear stories of what the people in this area had undergone and to get a sense of their lives and issues post-war. In addition, human rights workers visited the workshop in Anuradhapura and spoke about their work and the ongoing issues for war-affected people, post-war. What the participants heard and saw stimulated their creative work and some of it is reflected in this anthology. Following the workshop, participants submitted creative work that was workshopped over the course of two online forums. Once the forums finished, participants worked with Shyam Selvadurai to prepare one of their creative piece for publication. The editing process took four months. Their creative efforts are wonderfully on display in the Write to Reconcile Anthology 3.
The focus of the anthology is largely on the post-war period, though some of the stories and poems do reflect back to the period of the war itself and, in doing so, add dimension and context to the post-war creative pieces: A young Tamil boy stuck in a refugee detention camp in Australia grapples with his homelessness both in this foreign country, but also back in his homeland; a young Muslim woman finds her faith in a better Sri Lanka challenged by the anti-Muslim violence in Aluthgama that has direct consequences for her family; a court stenographer’s traumatic past is awoken by a rape trial she must document, involving Sinhalese soldiers and two Tamil women; a Sinhalese couple who have adopted a Tamil baby debate whether to keep the child’s Tamil name or change it to a Sinhalese one; a young Sinhalese man from London grows aware of his family’s complicity in a terrible act of violence; a Sinhalese woman recalls, post-war, a real life trip she made with her doctor father to the LTTE-dominated East, where she made friends with a female LTTE soldier; a Tamil woman from London returns to her war devastated village of Puthukkudiyiruppu. The poems showcased in the anthology capture a multiplicity of experiences, among them, the effect of the war on Sinhalese farmers in border villages, the slaughter of Muslims by the LTTE in the Kattankuddy mosque, and the effect of war on women’s lives and bodies.
In speaking about the anthology, Shyam Selvadurai, the Project Director, said, “This is my third year doing the anthology and I continue to be amazed at the quality of work and the level of engagement by the participants. I am both humbled and grateful that they have allowed me into their creative visions and trusted me so completely to guide them through the editing process to create such powerful pieces. I feel I have lived in each of their realities and am enhanced as a writer by this experience. We still have a long way to go in terms of reconciliation and dealing with the wounds of the war. This anthology will, I hope provide help in this process.”
Speaking of the launch of the anthology, Dr.Jehan Perera, the Executive Director of the National Peace Council, said, “Civil society has an important role to play in supporting the government’s efforts to establish a transitional justice framework to help reconciliation efforts in the country.There is a gap in empathy between the different ethnic communities. Creative writing increases empathy between them. We are very pleased that Shyam Selvadurai and his team have devoted so much time and effort to promoting reconciliation through the creative medium of writing.”
The U.S. Embassy’s American Center has been a generous supporter of the project for all three years of its existence. Regarding the project, James L. Russo, Director of Press, Academic, and Cultural Affairs, said, “The U.S. Embassy Colombo is proud to support the release of this third instalment in the Write to Reconcile series. One of the Embassy’s key goals is to support the country’s reconciliation process. Writing is one of the most powerful tools for Sri Lankan citizens to connect with people across communities, communities which collectively make up the wonderfully diverse Sri Lankan national mosaic.”
Two thousand copies of the anthology will be mailed out to selected schools and libraries throughout the country. In addition, an e-book will be available for downloading for free at www.writetoreconcile.com as of March 28th2017. Anyone wishing to obtain further information about collecting a copy should email firstname.lastname@example.org