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From Hitchcock to Lamia Abbass Amara, here’s what unfolded Between The Lines.


“Butterflies flutter joyfully all around, faces lit up with joy, while the buzzing of bees can be heard through wooden walls. This is the tale of an afternoon at Ola Library.” This is what one of the participants wrote in our first exercise for the "Between The Lines" workshop.


“Between The Lines” is a creative writing workshop for female writers held by Creative Iraq in collaboration with the Iraqi creative writing community “PoetryHub” and “Aziza” organization for female empowerment, alongside Ola Library in Baghdad.



Into the Abstract

The workshop kicked off with PoetryHub’s founder, Sura Talal, introducing female abstract artists and tying that to “abstract writing.” She encouraged participants to release themselves from the restraints of language and criticism during the upcoming writing exercises, all prepared around the themes of femininity and female empowerment.

Afterward, we performed a deep breathing relaxation exercise, and the participants were asked to enter a “flow of consciousness” state and write the first thing that came to mind on the worksheets provided to them. The results were incredible! As participants read their short texts one by one and received feedback from their fellow writers.



Discussing Femininity

The diverse pool of participants from various walks of life, professions, and age groups enriched the discussions and conversations with multiple perspectives. Hence, when we asked, “What does femininity mean to you?” what followed was an insightful and creative exchange of ideas.

All those ideas were employed in the next exercise where we displayed a scene from Hitchcock’s classic “Rear Window.” The scene was charged with the “male gaze,” and we explained to our writers that they should rewrite the scene from a female perspective.

With each writing in their style and angle, everyone entered a flow of creativity, which continued for the rest of our four-hour workshop.


Fostering Imagination and Self-Expression

Throughout the session, we made sure to establish a safe and comfortable space for everyone to express themselves. This was evident when we displayed a text describing a “liberated and bold woman” in an imaginary setting, with sound effects of laughter and chatter all around to let the imaginations of the writers run wild. In the end, they had to write what they felt during this experience. The emotions ranged from feeling threatened and jealous to empowered and inspired. All ten participants shared their emotionally charged written texts in a safe and judgment-free space.




Going Full Circle

After hours of creatively demanding exercises and discussions, we definitely needed a pick-me-up, and what better way to rejuvenate than playing with colors!

For our final exercise, we displayed an excerpt from Iraq’s talented poet “Lamia Abbas Amara,” a pioneer in modern Iraqi poetry.

The participants had fun translating the imagery, concepts, and emotions in the poem into an abstract drawing. They took turns explaining the symbolism behind their drawings and how it ties to Lamia’s poem, femininity, and their own experiences as Iraqi women.




Conclusion

Between the lines we drew for ourselves, a space is created that makes us believe we are separated and distant. It is art, shapes, and words that fill that space, connecting the lines together and reminding us that after all, we share a lot of the same.


Keep up with our collaborators on their Instagram @Poetryhub.Iq, @aziza.iq, and @Ola_library to stay updated.





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