Forgotten Writers celebrates Int’l Women Day through writing competition
Motherhood Story Competition poster - illustrated by Dahila Al-Hakiem
By GEHAD EL-SHAIKH

CAIRO: The Motherhood Short Story Competition, organized by The Forgotten Writers Project, will celebrate Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day in March with workshops that will last into September 2014.

“It was very difficult to organize any of the workshops because of the instability in the streets of Cairo after the January 25 Revolution,” competition and initiative founder Mahmoud Mansi told The Cairo Post. “Some workshops spanned over a year because we kept having to postpone it due to the clashes.”

The Forgotten Writers Project is a registered non-profit Egyptian initiative to encourage and launch international and local stories through social and specific themes, and has organized competitions as a way to prompt more people to write, read, and get creative with through storytelling.

The project is operated in cooperation with Being Feminist, a group from India, to organize the competition, which encourages its applicants to delve into the theme of Motherhood. The winners will receive Award Certificates and their work will be published in one book at the award ceremony in India.

“It is very important to start approaching one another through different methods, especially through art, as art is a source of affection, inspiration, creation, and documentation. There are so many troubles and differences in this world, let’s make the best out of it,” Mansi said in a press release on Being Feminist’s official blog in Dec. 2013.

Mansi founded the project when he and 12 other writers wanted to write literature stories immediately following the January 25 Revolution in 2011. They organized a workshop to write stories and develop them to publish, but it took them over a year to finish their stories through the workshops. He said it was very difficult because many publishing houses and magazines told them the market was saturated with articles and stories about the revolution and its effects. Mansi said they then sent their work to several competitions and two stories won in Spain.

He tried to hold a competition in Egypt himself for local writers through the support of several magazines, and some international writers were interested in the competition and requested him allow their participation.  This success led him to found the project, he said.

The Forgotten Writers Project not only organizes competitions, but writing and literature workshops for high school students in Egypt. Mansi told The Cairo Post it was “challenging” to work with the high school girls at first because “they were very shy but once they were introduced to new ideas and themes, not only in life on Earth, they became very excited and creative on just the second day of the workshop.”

The Forgotten Writers Project has organized five writing competitions so far, including the Women’s Domination Story Competition Winners in 2012 – 2013 to encourage female writers to find freedom of expression in their lives through their work, he said.

When the Women’s Domination Story Competition was first announced, many writers “beamed with feminist ideas, rights and perceptions, some of which were new while others were still traditional,” Mansi wrote in his press release for the competition in August 2013. But as time passed, he said the submissions did not remain individualistic, isolated ideas, but were were all connected with similar themes and emotions.

“It is very strange, or rather impressive,” Mansi said, “how a certain idea could almost telepathically and simultaneously spread around the globe for the same causes, but in different ways.”

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