Can we process trauma through writing?
After their in-person event with Sehri Tales held in May, Sister Library (Dhaka) continues to explore the topic of memory, this time with a reading and writing workshop with author of Shurjo's Clan, Iffat Nawaz. The event will take place on Wednesday, June 21 at 6 PM at the Goethe-Institut and is open to all.
The Sister Library has been delving into the shifting nature of memory. In this session, the author, together with The Daily Star's Books & Literary Editor, Sarah Anjum Bari, will discuss the act and impact of processing traumatic memories through writing.
"Is childhood always something fragile because we can never remember it as clearly later?", author Iffat Nawaz said to The Daily Star.
She continues, "When we look back, we often don't trust our observation accuracy or perspective biases; yet we remember the vivid feelings imprinting us, ornamenting us with new individual identities. As we grow we guard these distinct feelings and memories so dearly because one broken piece, one missing sound, could mean an erosion of the whole experience or at least tainting it. It could mean challenging the root of an emotion you defined as true long before you had learned to analyze."
This navigation of memory forms the premise behind Nawaz's debut novel, published by Penguin India in 2023, and it will drive the conversation organized by Sister Library.
Through the writing workshop that will follow, the author and participants will try to dive deeper into some of their childhood memories, "those we revisit or those which have become a part of our identity, our self-definitions. We want to decipher, bring it closer and perhaps even place it a little further", Nawaz says.
This is the second Sister Library reading on memory, following up on the group reading of Sehri Tales held last month.
"Members and participants of Sister Library are invited to question why, how and when they remember and how the nature and even body of memory is changing with technological advances", Katerina Don, Creative Director and Co-Founder at CholPori and Curator at HerStory Foundation, tells The Daily Star.
"As the curator of Sister Library, I am curious (and slightly worried) about what is happening to personal and collective memory. As we use more and more precise and minute ways of recording time, words and output, how is the nature of memory changed? Can recording sterilize memory and transform its intimacy and fragility into accessibility and concreteness? As we click, share, save, store, are we erasing our capacity to record with our scenes, emotions and flesh? There are no answers, just observations from our continued explorations of texts."
"Powered by female excellence", Sister Library is a space that seeks to celebrate female literary creativity. The library is an evolving participatory project founded by Aqui Thami in Bombay. The Dhaka branch is a collaborative effort of HerStory Foundation and the Goethe-Institut. The goal of the project is to bring together readers, to explore literary contributions, showcase artistic quality and celebrate women in the creative world as well as to foster interests and understanding of the accomplishments of female writers and artists.