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Turning objects into stories

Workshops, held in the run-up to the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival, bring minds closer to the wonders of literature
Claudia Gauci during one of the Skolasajf workshops. Photos: Justine Somerville

Two workshops recently brought young minds closer to the wonders of literature and creative writing, while giving them a taste of the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival, being held later this month.

The workshops were led by local writer Claudia Gauci among a group of 11-year-old Skolasajf students at Mġarr.

Gauci started the first session with a warm-up activity whereby she asked the students to introduce themselves using only three words related to their likes and dislikes.

She then showed them photographs and pictures connected to her own life and personality, and invited them to invent her biography by way of getting to know her. The author went on to discuss creative ways of describing a hobby by tapping into one’s emotions and imagination.

The second session was all about encouraging the students to let their imagination run lose through object writing. Then Gauci presented the participants with several objects, varying from the curious to the mundane, and asked them to choose one and explore it with “new eyes”. They were prompted to think outside the box and draw on all of their physical senses before taking turns to describe their item.

This exercise prepared them to write the object’s story from the same object’s perspective. Using first person narration, they managed to come up with creative pieces which they enjoyed sharing with Gauci, their teachers and each other.  

A workshop like this is an opportunity for them to remember or even to discover the fun of imagining; of simply roaming in one’s own mind and conjuring other worlds

When asked about her experience, Gauci said: “Presenting the pleasures of creative writing to 11-year-olds on a hot sunny morning, and trying to ‘convince’ them that this could be something they too can do, is not easy. The more time passes and the more the generational gap grows, I realise more and more how youngsters are losing touch with literature and with writing and, worst of all, with being imaginative and creative.

“A workshop like this is an opportunity for them to remember or even to discover the fun of imagining; of simply roaming in one’s own mind and conjuring other worlds. Through a bit of fun and jokes, curious ways of approaching creative writing and by way of trying to eliminate all the differences there are between us, I perhaps managed to get some of them to appreciate this and maybe, to ultimately write creatively.”

She stressed that children should continuously be exposed to all the above through different opportunities given by schools and education in general.

“It might be the only way for them to get close to books and literature and all the imagination and creativity that lie in between,” Gauci concluded.

Claudia Gauci is among the seven writers invited to participate in the 18th edition of the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival organised by Inizjamed. Her works include two collections of poetry – Sekonda Qabel Tqum (Edizzjoni Skarta, 2012) and Max-Xatt tat-Tamarisk (Kotba Calleja, 2022), which is shortlisted for the National Book Prize. She has also published children’s books like Kelb Jismu Wuff (Merlin Publishers, 2021) and Orkubellu (Merlin Publishers, 2022), which she translated into Maltese from other languages.

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