Beyond Protest: Writing for Action

By Wasafiri Editor on December 16, 2021 in

Wasafiri is excited to announce ‘Beyond Protest: Writing for Action’, an online writing workshop tutored by our Writer-in-Residence Jessica Gaitán Johannessontaking place on 22 February, from 7-9pm, on Zoom.

‘There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious,’ wrote activist Mario Savio in 1964, ‘makes you so sick at heart that you can’t take part!’  

We live in an age of protest, when an increasing number of us feel no longer able to ‘take part’, and take to the streets with our heartache. How does writing respond to what happens there, and how can it be a part of the same spirit of resistance? How do we engage with issues of protest, action, and justice? How do we give voice to the responses to it?  

This writing workshop explores writing for protest and action, engaging with a range of issues, questions, and realities, and the feelings and power of protest.  

This is the third and final workshop in a series exploring writing about and from crisis with an intersectional scope, facilitated by Wasafiri‘s Writer-in-Residence Jessica Gaitán Johannesson, with ‘Beyond Dystopia: Writing About the Environmental Crisis’ held in collaboration with Durham Book Festival in October 2021, and ‘Beyond Crisis: Writing Resiliance’ which took place at the Radical Book Fair in Edinburgh in November 2021 in collaboration with Lighthouse Books. 

‘The questions giving rise to these workshops come just as much, if not more, from my experiences of being part of the climate justice movement as they do from encounters with written text. One of the inherent difficulties when exploring what it means to live, to resist and fight, within the climate crisis is to do with privilege. Because inequality created the crisis, and permeates it, any writing that deals with it becomes the arena for crucial choices about perpetuating or breaking patterns. How do we locate ourselves within such huge changes, honestly, without appropriating others’ experiences or falling into less useful  futuristic tropes, inviting the world in and unblocking global connections?  

The first of the Beyond Dystopia workshops focused on the local and global, the near and far-away, in intimate relation on the page. It was so moving to hear about how participants discovered places anew by writing about them through the lenses of other, less familiar ones. During the Beyond Crisis workshop at the Edinburgh Radical Book Fair, we questioned the very privileged idea of ‘crisis’ as temporary — something that happens to you and that you overcome. Participants shared difficult, and welcome, questions about intergenerational crises, and what we allow ourselves to write about. In the third and last workshop, I’m looking forward to giving space to ideas of resistance, inviting active protest to become an explicit, playful, explosive part in what we write.

More than anything, my hope for these workshops was to share difficult questions creatively, because they’re questions no individual has answers to, but that I think we all need to be asking, constantly. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who’s joined in for giving me new, better, questions to keep working with.’

— Jessica Gaitán Johannesson, Wasafiri‘s Writer-in-Residence

Jessica Gaitán Johannesson’s new essay collection The Nerves and Their Endings will be published by Scribe in August and is available to pre-order.

The first essay in the collection, “‘What Have I Done?’ and Other Illusions of Control”, was first published in Wasafiri 107 Crisis/Recovery which is available to purchase in the Wasafiri shop.