By Nohad ElHajj
On the 27th of May 2023, in collaboration with ForumZFD – Lebanon, we organized a half-day writing workshop that addresses the theme of “Dealing with the Past” as part of “Let’s All Connect on the Line” Festival organized by local initiative “Allo, Beirut?”.
Lebanon’s recent history remains heavily contested and is not featured in the history curriculum taught in schools. Efforts to deal with the past which incorporate the diverse perspectives of Lebanese communities remain few.
During the workshop, I tried to open a space to engage and reflect collectively, slowly, and intimately with this theme. This was done through literature, engaging with Etel Adnan’s novel “Sitt Marie Rose”.
On that hot Saturday, seven participants gathered in the park. The participants were invited to read the novel or parts of it prior to the workshop. Together, we reflected on our capacity, will, and need to Deal with the Past through guided individual writing exercises, collective sharing and dialogue.
After we finished, every participant read part of what they wrote to the rest of the group. The moment of sharing was particularly touching.
For this workshop, I had a feeling that we needed to leave with a token. So the day before, I prepared mini-booklets for each participant. I asked each participant to write one line from their writing in those booklets so at the end each one has a booklet that is filled with 7 individual writings.
We were lucky that the niece of one of the participants, who is an incredible drawer, was attending as well. She drew the covers of the mini booklets for all participants.