Write to Reconcile Anthology


Written for Reconciliation wouldn’t even exist if not for Write to Reconcile. I met Vasika during the Colombo workshop and we had enough and more time to talk, even later, during the Jaffna workshop. We had our anthology launch on September 4, and it was perfect. Seeing the anthology in print made me realize just how real the entire experience was.
Last December, we were asked to send in our applications. I remember writing a story about a long lost friend of my grandmother. Of course the story was made up, but my grandmother once knew a David from Jaffna and so it became that my contribution to the anthology too, was not altogether fiction.
The launch which took place at 80 Club, Colombo, had a full audience. H.E Ambassador Grete Lochen, Royal Norwegian Embassy, H.E Ambassador Michele Sisson, Embassy of the United States of America and Dr Jehan Perera, National Peace Council addressed the audience. Further, Project Director, Shyam Selvadurai presented a lovely introduction to the Anthology.
Anyway, at the launch, I had to speak about my experience and this is what I put together.
Hello, my name is Shailendree and I was one of the Write to Reconcile participants. When I heard about the program, I was more than just excited. Here was the perfect opportunity to work with one of my favourite authors, doing something I love. Yet, on my way to Boralesgamuwa, where the Colombo workshop was held, I was having second thoughts. How could someone as asocial and awkward as I handle four days with people I have never known before?

Then I met the Shyam and Nayomi, who conducted the sessions. The words were never forced out of us. Even when we had to work on poetry forms like sonnets and haikus, it was quite easy to bring our ideas and words together. And for that I have the authors to thank, for they did an amazing job bringing out the writers in us. I must also say that if not for these sessions, I wouldn’t have the confidence to talk in front of a crowd, or be able to happily accept comments and criticism on my work. Write to Reconcile showed us that it wasn’t enough to write, you must also be able to make changes and listen to the reader’s opinion and interpretation of your work.

The organizers, Shiromi and Amrita, took care of all of us, especially the younger participants who were treated like their own children. They made sure we were all well fed, in good health and were managing quite well. Whenever we were out, in Colombo shopping for books or in Jaffna enjoying the Fort, they were always taking care of us.

Finally, the participants. You all were such amazing people. Not age, where we came from, the social circles we moved around in or what we did in life, nothing mattered and it didn’t take more than a few hours to make friends with everyone. The online forums and groups made us spend time with various participants and during the program nothing stopped us from sharing our lives with each other. Everyone had their own stories, and it was so easy blend in and feel like you have known these people all your life.

The places we went to were much more than seeing an area of our island most of us had never been to before. We were not aware that such diverse culture coexisted within our small nation. Coming from Colombo, I was able to widen my identity as a Sri Lankan and we were able to incorporate our experience and observations into our stories. Walking down the deserted roads, enjoying night-time Jaffna, made us all feel like we were one and not people from two corners of the country. After the Jaffna workshop ended, we weren’t leaving behind just another city, we were leaving behind a place we had started to call home.

Finally, it must be said that Write to Reconcile wasn’t just an opportunity to contribute to an anthology. Looking at the printed copies, we all can say, “We made this happen.” Yet, what we have learned since the beginning of the year, and the experience is invaluable. The Write to Reconcile journey we took has reached its destination and I must thank everyone who made it worth the ride.

I’ve read only a handful of the contributions and plan to read all the stories as soon as I can. And I would recommend the anthology, which can be downloaded for free here, to anyone.

Page after page
that new book smell
small black letters
carved into
untouched paper
our names on print
the words
we put together
day and night
creating a
not always
fictitious world
where characters came alive
our thoughts given a voice
and now
the book in print
we hold it
too scared that
our human touch
will wake us up
for this reality
is so perfect
the moments
they seem like
a dream
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4 thoughts on “Write to Reconcile Anthology”

  1. Once again Shailee and Vasika, let me congratulate you guys!! Extremely happy that "Write to Reconcile" gave you so many experiences to write towards a better Sri Lanka and also start this blog, of which I'm delighted to be a contributor… I'm reading the anthology and I must say that I'm impressed… The stories and poems are as diverse and amazing as the writers themselves…I wish many would read it and change their stereotypical attitudes…Lovely speech and poem Shailee! "After the Jaffna workshop ended, we weren't leaving behind just another city, we were leaving behind a place we had started to call home.": That's really nice…"creating a not always fictitious world": I totally agree! 😀

  2. Thank you! and having spent so much time with the participants, I can say that they are as amazing as their stories. Everyone had some story or the other to share, and while some of us decided to keep our opinions to our selves, listening to the other discussions, it gave me so much to think about.

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