Pow­er­ful voices found at course

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JENNY LING

Writer Dana Cumin went through eight months of can­cer treat­ment for leukaemia in 2007 and 2008.

But it wasn’t un­til five years later, with the help of a writ­ers’ workshop, that she felt ready to pub­lish the notes she wrote in her di­ary while in hos­pi­tal.

The Mt Eden res­i­dent says com­plet­ing writ­ing classes for mi­grant women, New Kiwi Women Write Their Sto­ries, helped her deal with the ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘In gen­eral to ex­press your­self in any form of art – whether it be danc­ing, or paint­ing or writ­ing – it’s an im­por­tant out­let for any­one with a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘To be ex­posed to so many other writ­ers was in­valu­able.’’

The Mt Eden res­i­dent is a re­search man­ager and writes in her spare time.

She is cur­rently work­ing on a novel about her time spent liv­ing in Ja­pan and New Zealand.

Born in Is­rael, she stud­ied English lit­er­a­ture for an arts de­gree at Tel Aviv Univer­sity. She con­tin­ued her stud­ies at Massey Univer­sity in Palmer­ston North af­ter mov­ing to New Zealand in 1998.

She re­mem­bers pes­ter­ing her mum to buy a type­writer when she was a lit­tle girl.

‘‘So my mum got me one and I would type away on dif­fer­ent short sto­ries,’’ she says.

The Auck­land Coun­cil­run work­shops were cre­ated in 2011 to help mi­grant women ex­press them­selves.

This year, 40 women will at­tend the free classes from Fe­bru­ary 1 to 23 at San­dring­ham Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

They will re­ceive pro­fes­sional guid­ance from award-win­ning New Zealand au­thors in­clud­ing Janet Char­man, Jo­hanna Emeney, Miriam Barr, Riemke Ens­ing, Sarah Laing, Siob­han Har­vey, Paula Mor­ris and Re­nee Liang.

Fa­cil­i­ta­tor and writer Re­nee Liang says writ­ing is a great way to meet oth­ers, record ex­pe­ri­ences and mem­o­ries and dis­cover new tal­ent. Last year women from 15 coun­tries in­clud­ing Eng­land, Iran, Korea and Aus­tralia at­tended, she says.

‘‘Each time we’ve run the work­shops, the most amaz­ing and in­spir­ing sto­ries have come out.

‘‘Some peo­ple have been here in New Zealand for over 20 years and we had some­one from Ire­land who had signed up af­ter nine days in the coun­try.

‘‘We have had a cou­ple of women who were refugees and lots of women who came here as back­pack­ers when they were trav­el­ling and never re­ally left.’’

The sto­ries are col­lated by Ms Liang and pub­lished in an an­thol­ogy called New Be­gin­nings, which will be avail­able from pub­lic li­braries and book shops.

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