Guest post by Marsha Glenn, Write to Life
In March of this year, we had an exciting workshop with the very catchy title of ‘zine’. Exciting because it sounded like something new and powerful. By the end of the workshop, we were ready to put together and edit our own Write to Life Zine, to be published during Refugee Week 2021.
Before I share my experience as co-editor of the very first Write to Life Zine, I must introduce Write to Life properly. Write to Life is a unique creative writing group within Freedom from Torture, that has worked with survivors of torture for more than 20 years. We meet every week to share ideas and stories. Not all of us arrive familiar with creative writing skills, especially in English. However, this group has provided a platform for countless learning, publication and performing opportunities for the members who proudly claim themselves as creative writers now. We always feel safe and supported if we want to share our experiences of torture with other members and mentors.
The idea of our first digital and print zine is to increase Write to Life’s visibility in the world, beyond our writers’ contributions to social media and the Freedom from Torture. We have chosen the Refugee Week 2021 theme, ‘We cannot walk alone’ for the title of our first issue. Future zines will be themed around significant dates and events as well. In line with Freedom from Torture’s policy of being survivor-led, one of the writers will be working with a mentor to edit each individual edition of the Zine. Writers are also encouraged to share how they would they like to see their pieces illustrated with images, drawings and so on.
I volunteered myself as a co-editor due to my past experiences in this field. I wanted to recall my editing hours back home as a sub-editor of several fashion and lifestyle magazines, as well as the feature sections of national newspapers. Now I work in the finance sector. Moving back from numbers to words makes me feel passionate again, and I have also been grateful for the chance to learn from my very experienced co- editor Lucy Popescu during this project.
When I started reading my friends’ pieces from Write to Life, I felt extremely proud of them. I was wondering about the friend Nalougo pictured in his poem titled ‘Empathy’. Then I realise that friend is not just one person, it is about all of us, all of our Write to Life and Freedom from Torture friends. I discovered that my friends’ writings have been fed by their struggles and pain. My own short story is about the possibility of starting something simple but effective in our community, to bridge differences of national identity or culture.
I am very confident that the Write to Life zine will continue to display the writers’ hard work and how they are benefiting from the group. And in doing so, show the wider world the reality of the lives of people like myself and my fellows in Write to Life.
Find out more about Write to Life’s new quarterly zine and read the first issue, ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’, here.