Incarceration, abuse and domestic violence are just a few of the topics that will be explored in a new vulnerable showcase, which is set to be performed at the Braford Literature Festival next month.
Bradford born lawyer turned author Abda Khan, who has penned two critically acclaimed novels and was recognised as the British Muslim Woman of the Year 2019, has been leading creative writing workshops for the service users of The Muslim Women in Prison Project and Solihull Women’s Aid.
Another amazing day of writing & discussion @bswaid in 3rd workshop in @ace_national @TNLUK funded Sidelines to Centre Stage Project Experiences shared on the page; a few tears again but so much support for one another, and such a willingness by brave women to share their stories pic.twitter.com/0FAOtQ5rAb
— Abda Khan (@abdakhan5) April 25, 2019
Abda said: “It’s very unlikely that the general member of the public will pick up the latest government report or the latest academic research into issues like domestic abuse and honour-based violence, they’re just not going to do that and I don’t think there is enough coverage of these issues outside of these reports.
“A lot of people are not aware of these issues and I think the creative industry can play an important role in bringing certain issues to light.”
Through the series of weekly creative writing workshops entitled ‘Sidelines to Centre Stage’, which commenced on 15 April, the women have been able to express their wide-ranging experiences of domestic violence, honour-based abuse, FGM and imprisonment through spoken word poetry and prose.
These raw, unheard narratives will be brought to life on stage by actors under the direction of Trina Haldar and British Asian arts organisation Sampad.
The gripping stories of these women unearth a range of topics such as loss, religion, cultural barriers and love, and will be captured in an emotive hour-long performance at The Theatre in the Mill in Bradford on 30 June.
BCB radio presenter Shamim Akhtar, wrote on Twitter: “I have seen first-hand how hard Abda Khan is working with these women and the impact she is having on them through the creative writing sessions.
“The stories shared take you through so many different emotions and it is so important that they are heard through this platform.”
I have seen first hand how hard @abdakhan5 is working with these women and the impact she is having on them through the creative writing sessions. The stories shared take you through so many different emotions and it is so important that they are heard through this platform https://t.co/FL9wPjM493
— Shamim Akhtar (@ShamimAkhtar270) May 18, 2019
Abda has consistently championed the therapeutic nature of creative writing after overcoming depression following the loss of her mother, and hopes to support other women though this artform.
She said: “Everyone thinks writing is about getting it published but for me there’s the writing that I share and then there’s the writing that I don’t share, and that’s for me to be able to deal with any demons or any current issues that are going on.
“I wrote a poem called Marigolds which is about the first time I visited my mother’s grave, as there were a lot of marigolds planted around her grave and I found that creative writing was great way to help me deal with some of the left over issues I had from age 18 when my mum died.”
Another inspiring session @bswaid refuge yesterday in the 4th @ace_national @TNLUK funded Sidelines to Centre Stage Project workshop – discussed #mentalhealth & how #creativewriting can help. Safe space where these brave women can candidly share their experiences through writing pic.twitter.com/VumsJFaYKk
— Abda Khan (@abdakhan5) May 3, 2019
Abda’s Sidelines to Centre Stage project is funded by Arts Council England and The National Lottery, and is the first of its kind to be preformed at the festival.
Abda said: “The stories deserve to move from the sidelines to the centre stage.”
Tickets for the showcase can be purchased through the Braford Literature Festival website.