When Jo Hepplewhite was asked to teach a creative writing course for survivors of domestic violence, she expected them to have problems in focussing and expressing their ideas in literary form. Instead she found the women were the brightest, most eager and dedicated of any group of new writers she had ever taught. Their willingness to discuss and write, their flexibility towards their work and their ability to support one another was completely inspirational.
Creative writing was a new idea for most of the women, some of whom did not have English as their first language, others had dyslexia or other learning disabilities; some experienced mental health problems as a result of the trauma they had lived through. Despite this and constant visits to the Family Court, Housing Departments, Social Services agencies, they created a collection of poems and prose which is moving, funny and lyrical by turn.
During one exercise, the group were writing ideas of where they’d like to be in the future. One woman said she’d like to fall in love again, to which another replied, “You should STAND in love, not FALL in love.” This is where the name of the collection came from. You can read some of this work here; the writers have used pen names to protect their identity.
The Stand in Love book is available from Chalk the Sun for £3.00 [all proceeds go towards the project] – see Dates & Rates page.
Chalk the Sun would like to thank Wandsworth Widening Participation Unit, The Battersea Methodist Mission and the Mimosa Project for making Stand in Love possible.
The workshops continued to be popular as the women in the group changed and developed and Chalk the Sun is now working with Nichola Charalambou from Creative Writes to build on this legacy.
Despite the women having been brought together by their experience of domestic abuse much of their writing celebrates life… Click here to read some extracts.