When I updated this blog in June 2020, I was fairly sure I would have lots of time to come back and update more regularly. But here I am, one day short of June, one year later. It’s odd to look back at that last entry and wonder if time stood still.
We held a culminating activity for the Envisioning Other Futures workshop sometime in March of this year. For many of us who were part of the workshop, it was the first time we were meeting anyone in person since the lockdown kicked in. It was a rather curious and surreal feeling. Festive, true. But also surreal.
It was lovely to see the workshop participants again and to be able to see a physical compilation of the work they’d done through the workshop. For the interested, an online copy of the book is available through this The Other Futures link.
The collection is bilingual with work written in English and work written in Dutch. Considering how some of these writers had not written any fiction (let alone science fiction) before, I’m quite pleased with the work we included in this collection. I want to mention the tireless efforts of Brigitte van der Sande who made the workshop possible through Stichting Mouflon and The Other Futures Festival. Brigitte is a powerhouse, an inspiring person and someone who’s encouraged me to move forward in the work that I do. I can’t begin to thank her for her untiring effort as well as the way in which she kept nudging me gently forward.
Here’s the cover for the print and online version. You can also find the book by clicking on the image.
Yesterday was the fourth meeting of Envisioning Other Futures. A good part of our group caught some form of the flu and so attendance was down. Perhaps it was by chance but those present were the workshop participants who were born/raised in The Netherlands and who therefore speak/write/perform mostly in Dutch.
Roziena Salihu was with us yesterday evening as visiting lecturer and it was a real treat to have this wonderful and multi-talented artist in our midst. Roziena shared a film with us which was made for the VPRO programme Dorst. Fufu met Appelmoes which is also available on the VPRO’s YouTube channel, gives the viewer an intimate peek into what it’s like being mixed-race in The Netherlands. The film is in Dutch, but it’s one that I would recommend as a must watch film not just because it connects on a lot of personal points with regards to the search for identity and belonging, but also because of the social issues and questions that arise from watching the film.
Roziena’s approach to her work and to the challenges that she encounters and faces provided us with lots of food for thought. I am certain that a lot of what was spoken about around the table yesterday will find a place in the future work of these young writers.
To close the evening, we had a fun little game called “the exquisite corpse”. The resulting work evoked laughter and that sense of wonder which I believe is essential to writing science fiction.
(photo of collective work produced by Marielle, Storm, Anna, Germaine, Jasper and Yannick)
Yesterday was the third day of the Envisioning Other Futures Writer’s Workshop. After an intense first two meetings with lots of in-class exercises, we had our first critique circle. For their first writing assignment, we created a shared world setting and I asked the writers to create stories/work in that setting. For me, it was important to see how far these writers are in their writing journey and also I wanted to know what else I could share with them. Given that they had less than a week to complete the first writing assignment, I found myself happily surprised by how many of the class made the effort and succeeded in completing a first draft. I am encouraged and delighted by the work the class is producing. In between, we talked briefly about the Dutch mindset and how this can stand in the way of allowing the self to come out and play and be imaginative and have fun.
In the afternoon, our first guest lecturer, Müge Yilmaz spoke to us about her work and process. It was such a joy to listen and to be inspired by her approach and her vision. Müge’s work is thought-provoking and inspiring and her talk reminded me of how artists and visionaries tap into streams of awareness that resonate with each other.
There’s a lot to think about and mull over.
I’m sharing a link to Müge’s website in the hopes that those who read this post will also be inspired by her work.
I want to write more about the workshop, the process and things I am discovering not just about my students, but about myself as well. The great thing about the workshop process is that as we share knowledge, we also grow in understanding. It isn’t a one-way street, it’s a process. I believe that to be an artist is to be constantly challenging oneself and to be constantly open to learning and to be constantly growing.