Launch at the Women Zone library

 In Events
Date: Saturday 28 July
Time: 14:00 to 15:00

Venue: Woman Zone Library, ground floor, Artscape
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For more information and media enquiries please contact Dawn Garisch or +27(0)834461161.
The power of words to heal
A new anthology of South African stories, This is How it is (Life Righting Collective, 2018),highlights the power of life writing skills to heal, transform and understand trauma.
Charlotte Mande Ilunga moved to South Africa from the Democratic Republic of Congo 17 years ago. She first heard about Life Righting courses in 2017. At the time she was interested in writing her life story but she was unable to attend the course, which teaches memoir or life writing, due to a lack of funds. “Then I got a call to say that my place at the course was sponsored and it was like something in me was unleashed. I haven’t looked back,” she says. “At the time I felt that even the people close to me didn’t really know me. I was an enigma. Through the course I realised that writing a memoir can be like unpacking a heavy suitcase. Yes, the pain of my past has shaped who I am but I am lighter when I share my stories. And by sharing my stories there is also the chance that I can help someone else to feel less alone.”
Mande Ilunga is one of 52 writers and poets whose work appears in This is How it is, an anthology produced by the Life Righting Collective that includes prose and poetry from both established and first time writers. The publication of This is How it is was celebrated at a launch event for contributors on Saturday 2 June at The Crypt Jazz Restaurant in Cape Town.
Dawn Garisch, a medical doctor who has published six novels, one poetry collection and two works of non-fiction, first started running Life Righting courses in 2009. “Writing has always helped me understand myself and others better. I have also seen how beneficial regular creative practice can be,” she says. The idea for an anthology was borne out of Garisch’s recognition that the writers who attended her courses deserved a wider audience. “There was such good writing coming out of the courses that I had to find a way to grow the number of people that the course could reach, and to find ways to bring the richness of our human experience to readers,” she says. The Life Righting Collective andThis is How it is was the result.
Garisch believes that everyone’s story is important and that developing the ability to understand your life as a narrative can have therapeutic results. “Paying attention to the details of your life, and experimenting with ways to put your story on the page, coupled with a particular mentoring approach, is not only about learning writing skills. The tools participants must acquire in order to initiate, pursue and complete a piece of writing can assist them to live life more creatively, less anxiously, less self- destructively and with more tolerance and compassion for themselves and others.”
Ronelle Hart, a poet and psychologist whose work also appears in the anthology agrees. “The process of writing, shaping, editing and, perhaps most importantly, sharing our stories can be a very powerful experience. People might consider themselves ordinary but we all have a beautiful, powerful and important story to tell,” she says.
Beauty Bokwani, another contributor to the anthology, has found that the skills she learned on the Life Righting course she attended have also helped her in her work with vulnerable children. “Writing down your experience can be a tool for healing. Not just for us as adults but also in children, who often don’t have the skills to express their hurt as easily. Telling their stories is a way for them to release their pain,” she says.
The launch of This is How it is also celebrates the Life Righting Collective’s official recognition as an NPO. “For the last two years the team behind the Life Righting Collective has been working hard to establish the organisation as an NPO. In the future we hope to attract funding to help us extend, develop and nurture life writing amongst people from diverse contexts, and to disseminate affordable stories to a wide readership in the form of an annual anthology, a website and social media platforms.”
Copies are available at bookstores and can also be ordered online at
For more information and media enquiries please contact Dawn Garisch at or +27(0)834461161.
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