I was meant to attend this multicultural workshop today in person, but alas, COVID.
It had been rescheduled many times, and by the time today came I think the organisers felt we could all wait no more.
Put it online.
I had my tea ready, my writing tools, position by the window… check. ✔
We explored using a language other than English within our writing: whether that be a language we’ve lived with at home, a language we’ve inherited, or a language we’ve learned from living in another place. We experimented with techniques and read poetic examples of other writers who have dabbled in this method of the multilingual writer.
We had a couple of writing exercises too, and I wanted to share one of those with you. In exploring language, and what another language meant to us, and how it defined us… my memory led me to a perfect example.
My childhood example:
“My childhood can’t pinpoint the part at which I learnt to speak English or my ancestral tongue. They are both blended and merged, swirled together in a kaleidoscope of colours; mixed together like the Croatian walnut roll, ‘orehnjaca’ my Mum made. The walnut filling was a distinct layer, separate from the dough, and yet you couldn’t have one without the other. It was perfect as a whole.
Old footage has me at my third birthday, my mum and godmother encouraging me to repeat the words “spider, yuck” after someone had used a rubber spider to scare my arachnophobe sister, consequently scaring me too in the process. I repeated these words to the camera, my childlike voice coming out clearly tinged with the European dialect I was accustomed to.
In the next breath my godmother was laughing about my fear of “debeli kum” and she and my Mum broke up in unrestrained laughter. Spoken so I didn’t understand, but I knew precisely what they were saying – my “fat godfather” as they had coined him, who I was petrified of, perhaps not so much for his size, but for his warped German accent when he spoke Croatian, and his loud bellowing “mwa ha ha ha” laugh as he joined in on their laughter and teasing.”
Thanks for reading. 🙏