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The Bahrain Writers’ Circle (BWC), which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, has not only created a haven for like-minded people wanting to sharpen their story skills but has also helped pave the way for aspiring authors, writes Mai Al-Khatib-Camille.
The group, which was founded in 2011 by best-selling author and former resident Robin Barratt, has flourished over the years with people from all walks of life signing up to join the creative community and its workshops.
“When I founded the BWC 10 years ago, it was a way of bringing together like-minded souls to share our journeys as writers and help and inspire each other,” said Robin, a true crime writer who now lives in the UK. He launched an anthology titled My Beautiful Bahrain showcasing words from different BWC members and its sequel, More of My Beautiful Bahrain, continues to hold its own on the Amazon best-seller list.
Many members gained from the BWC as well, such as authors British aircraft engineer Glen Stansfield, Jordanian Muna Rabieh and Bahraini Noor AlNoaimi who found the workshops worthwhile and have published books.
“I joined the Bahrain Writers’ Circle in 2015 to hone my writing skills and gain confidence in sharing my writing,” explained Muna, a 34-year-old author living in Amwaj Islands. “I think it’s an amazing community filled with talented members and I learned so much from the Creative Writing workshops.”
Since then, Muna’s written two children’s books and says that she wouldn’t have published either had it not been for the BWC.
She added: “Rohini Sunderam, a freelance copywriter who kept the BWC going around 2013 and was the brainchild of the popular ‘Confluence - Where Words and Images Meet’ event, was and continues to be an amazing mentor to me.
“She really helped me come out of my shell. My advice to anyone looking to nurture the writer within them is to join this wonderful group!”
Noor, a 34-year-old librarian, also found the courage to publish a novella and a children’s book after joining BWC in 2012. She said: “The driving forces behind the BWC, Rohini to be specific, read a piece of mine and made it bleed. It was the best thing to happen to me. I was a young, wide eyed soul and thought I had this writing thing down until I unlearned that and started again. It is a space where you can invent and reinvent yourself as a writer and I think a default stop for anyone writing in Bahrain.”
Recently, Noor answered an open call for Arab women writers made by Saqi Books, an independent publisher in London that publishes books from the MENA region, and made their finalist list.
Glen also found the group to be supportive and now runs the Creative Writing workshops online.
The 63-year-old from Janabiyah joined in 2014. He said: “I went to a meeting to hear a published author talk on using social media to sell books. At the time, I was on the verge of publishing my first novel.
“I was so impressed by the welcome and immediate acceptance that I signed up on the spot.
“I think it would be hard to find a more supportive group. A wide array of literary, cultural and employment backgrounds create an immense wealth of knowledge within the group, which is freely shared amongst the members and sometimes to the outside world in our events.”
In May 2020, Rohini stepped down and handed over the BWC to co-directors Saira Ranj and Melissa Nazareth, director of PR and communications, Claudia Hardt, director of the sub-group the Second Circle Poetry Group, Parvinder Kaur and director of digital and Creative Writers’ Workshop, Glen.
‘The Business of Writing’, ‘The Second Circle’ and ‘The Creative Writing’ workshops are held on Zoom.
The annual exhibition, ‘Confluence - Where Words & Images Meet’ held at Harbour Gate is currently being planned for October 2021.
For more information, membership enquiries and details of meetings visit www.bahrainwriterscircle.net.