In his famous painting, Paul Gauguin (1897) asks “Where Do We Come From, What Are We, Where Are We Going”
(D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous). Here in Yangon, we’ve just started our new Writing, Myth and Tradition creative writing class at the Parami Institute, using storytelling – with a little help from Gauguin himself – to explore where we all come from, what we are and where we might be going.
It is a big class, with just under twenty students. They are a hugely diverse bunch. About half of the students in the group are from Myanmar, and the other half from all across the globe. The room is positively overflowing with fascinating stories and potentially enriching conversations, and we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface.
Our first couple of sessions have taken as a starting point the poet Muriel Rukeyser‘s claim that “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” It is, of course, not strictly true; but what we’re interested in is the universe of human experience. And here, stories are the way that we can get a handle on things.
What we’re particularly interested in exploring is this human impulse to tell and share stories. So we’re starting with one of the most ancient human traditions of all, that of oral storytelling, and moving from there to the written word. So far, it is been enormously stimulating, leaving us buzzing with new ideas, new stories, and new possibilities. Stories have a way of doing that: because if the universe is made of stories, making and remaking stories is a way of remaking the world.
Our short story class at the Parami Institute in Yangon is now in full swing, and it has been a lot of fun. We have been working with a committed and talented group of Burmese writers, exploring a whole range of storytelling skills. The photo above comes from last night’s session on Aristotle’s Poetics and story structure. Into the New Year, we’re planning further courses at Parami as well as a range of projects elsewhere. We’ll keep you posted!
We’re now in Myanmar (Burma), where we’ll be for the coming months. We’ve got a number of projects in the works, but first up is a six week writing workshop at the Parami Institute of the Liberal Arts and Sciences in Yangon. Starting later in November, we’ll be teaching a course on the fundamentals of short story writing. We’ll be drawing on published stories from both Myanmar writers and writers elsewhere in the world, and will be looking at short stories in a cross-cultural and cross-linguistic context. It promises to be a lot of fun.
Today we’re leaving Ubud after a hugely stimulating few days at the Writers and Readers Festival. Our final event yesterday was our workshop on writing and ethics. We had thirteen or fourteen participants – a nice mix of Indonesian and non-Indonesian writers – for a leisurely three hour exploration of how to get in and out of trouble with words. It was a massively stimulating afternoon, with a huge breadth of experience and insight around the table. Continue reading “Talking Ethics in Ubud”
Along with fellow writer Alexandros Plasatis, at the end of July 2018 we’ll be co-running a workshop at Leicester Cathedral to run alongside Arabella Dorman’s exhibition, Suspended. The workshop will take place on the 26th July, and then on the following day we will be involved in running a creative writing performance event in the cathedral.
Image: Leicester Cathedral
We’re delighted to be running two creative writing workshops on the 13th and 14th of August in conjunction with our good friends the LECTI (Language Education Culture Tolerance Information) centre in Varna, Bulgaria. LECTI are a fabulous organisation who run a feverish riot of activities in multiple languages.
We’ll be in Bulgaria for a good chunk of August, so we’ll post a bit more about any other Bulgarian events closer to the time.
Image by Ivan Milev, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.