Afghan Women’s Writing To Be Discussed

BY LUIS GRONDA
Staff Writer

Women from a war-torn Middle Eastern country will discuss stories about living in their native country later this month.

A series of essays and poems from the Afghan Women’s Writing Project will be presented at the Richmond Hill Library on Jan. 13.

The Writing Project is dedicated to giving women, who used to live or are currently living in Afghanistan, a platform to write literature about life in the war-ravaged country, or any other subject they wish to discuss. It is headed by Masha Hamilton, a former journalist who has worked in the American Embassy in Afghanistan during her career. She founded the Afghan Women’s Writing Project in 2009.

Stacy Le Melle, the workshop director who helped organize the event, said attendees will get to learn that Afghan women are much more than just their outside appearance.

“It’s a chance to hear about people who are often silenced,” she said. “This is probably the greatest collection of Afghan writers in this country.”

Le Melle said many of the writers submit their work online and they select the best ones to print and showcase. Identities are limited to first-name only or hidden completely to avoid any potential trouble with their native country, Le Melle said.

One example of the type of writing found on the site is a recently published essay titled “In Afghanistan, the rules are twisted.” In the piece, the writer, only identified by Aysha, briefly discusses some aspects about life in her country, including education and marriage.

“Education is an obligation for men and women in Islam, but we have Muslims who won’t let their daughters go to school. In marriage, the girl and boy should be the same age, but there are Muslims who give their daughters away in marriage to men old enough to be their grandfathers. There are Muslims who sell their daughters to the Taliban,” she writes in the piece, posted on their website on Dec. 30.

Le Melle said Hamilton will read the majority of the selected pieces during the workshop, but two Afghan women will also be present to read to the audience. A question and answer session is expected to follow the event.
The workshop will begin at 6:30 p.m. and run until approximately 8 p.m. The library is located at 118-14 Hillside Ave. in Richmond Hill.

For more information on the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, visit awwproject.org.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com or @luisgronda.