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     Volume 4 Issue 75 | December 16, 2005 |

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Connecting Futures

Shamim Ahsan

It was a unique event where two groups of young creative writers produced literary works in collaboration. The idea was to exchange ideas and views through creative writing. A four-member group from the UK, and Brine Pickles, a group of young writers of Bangladesh, joined in a five-day long workshop at the British Council. An exciting

The visiting UK team at a press briefing at British Council

performance was scheduled, called "performance literature", involving live music and special lighting. The set design as well as the background music was also created in line with the theme of a particular literary work; the idea was to give art work a physical presentation, to allow the audience an altogether different experience of literature.

This ingenious project styled Maps and Metaphors was initiated by BC under its Connecting Futures programme in 2003. It has created a great opportunity for the young

creative writers writing in English language from Bangladesh and the UK to exchange ideas, learn about the literary trend and thus contribute to each other's writing. In the present workshop the issue on focus was "identity" and a whole range of other related topics like faith, gender, religion, ethnicity, race, culture, individuality, language, AIDS, sexuality, diversity and employment.

The first of the two-round workshop was supervised by Dinesh Allirajah. The four participants from the UK include Amanda Smith, Joe Dunthorne, Susan Vittery and Anna Steward--students from East Anglia, Middlesex, and Durham universities. The second round workshop will be held in the UK from 20-24 February where four members of Brine Pickles will join.

Dinesh Allirajah, the workshop facilitator, is a short story writer, jazz poet, performer,

The Brine Pickles members with one of the four members of the visiting writers from the UK

workshop leader, and a member of Black Arts Alliance. Best known for performance poetry, Allirajah performed both as a solo artist and as part of 'Asian Voices Asian Lives', a pioneering collective of BritishAsian writers and performers that achieved widespread recognition during the 1990s. A collection of these stories, A Manner of Speaking, was

published in 2004 by Liverpool publishers Spike. Allirajah is also an experienced creative writing tutor, having worked with schools, undergraduates and adult groups.

Brine Pickles, on the other hand, was formed as a part of a Connecting Futures Project of the British Council in January 2004. Initially it set off with three members, but now has 15 active members. "The objective of the project has been to promote contemporary British writing as well as to

Young creative writers from the UK and Bangladesh took part in a four-day long workshop at British Council

encourage promising young English language writers in Bangladesh to present their work to a wider audience in and outside the country," Saiful Islam, a Brine Pickles member explains.

The members of the group are engaged in writing poems, fiction and plays. Some of these writers have also published their works in and outside Bangladesh and are writing regularly for dailies and monthlies both in Bangla and English. Besides holding regular discussion sessions in the BC where they read their works and have critical discussions on each other's writing the group has also formed an active network with students from a number of universities, colleges and schools who are interested in creative writing. The group is also linked with a group of writers who are graduates from East Anglia University, Norwich, UK, the most prominent creative writing school in the UK.

Brine Pickles' future plans include getting linked with projects like "I Belong" a forum of young writers from Pakistan, France, Egypt, and Malaysia as well as "Crossing Borders" projects, a forum of writers from the African continent. The group is going to publish a collection of its members' writings in an anthology by March next year and hold a show in Chittagong in March 2006.


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