Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Power of Words Knows no Borders

By Georgia Buck

It’s rare to find yourself in a room dedicated to the sharing and acknowledgement of diversity and culture, which made the Writers Across Borders workshop all the more special. Six writers from all over the world shared their works of writing and words of wisdom with all who were in attendance.

Each writer spoke to four main themes presented in their own literary styles. One of which included ‘love coexisting with hate’.

Omar Musa, spoke very passionately about his religious upbringing as a Muslim in Australia. He emphasised the love he had for his religion but also how often it led him to distance himself from his faith. An award-winning slam poet, Musa uses his experience to entertain and enlighten his audience in respect to the challenges faced by minority cultures in a wealthy country.

Another theme strongly presented was: finding your place in the world.

Bao Chan Nguyen, a Vietnamese author, shared her poem, ‘Loneliness’. Rendering the work in both English and Vietnamese, Nguyen spoke of ‘returning to a place where nobody waits for you’. Her reciting of the poem in her native tongue highlighted the significance of keeping individual cultures alive in a foreign country.

Writers also spoke about the ‘power of language’ when leaving your place of comfort and stability.

Suchen Christine Lim, was born in Malaysia and educated in Singapore. Lim shared excerpts from of her works with the audience and spoke fervently of her childhood experiences in Singapore, creating vivid imagery in the minds of the audience.

Nyein Way is a Myanmar poet. He uses his language to convey messages of optimism and hope to his listeners, believing that one can never be lonely as love is forever present.

The final theme explored by the writers was ‘returning’ and the significance of re-entering a place of warmth and compassion.

Jhoanna Cruz is a Filipino novelist and playwright. Her presentation included an excerpt from her novel, Woman Loving: Stories and a Play, which discusses the hardships encountered by lesbians in a predominantly Catholic society. She discussed the issues involved in her returning to her home in the Philippines, however she came to the resolution that one cannot simply remove themselves completely from their true identity, which is established from their home.

The theme of ‘returning’ also influenced Cate Kennedy’s presentation. Kennedy is an Australian author of many well-known novels. She shared her poem, ‘Joyflight, which told her story of becoming a fiction writer. She also spoke about her experiences in Hội An as a young woman. Kennedy particularly focused on one enlightening encounter she had with a Vietnamese local. This experience, she described, was a rewarding one but the allure of home was too overwhelming.

All six acclaimed writers spoke of reoccurring themes that are evident throughout their literary pieces. The workshop was an enlightening experience for all present and opened up the eyes of the audience to the lives of six fascinating and unique personalities.

Edited by Anna Brasier

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