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Roses are red and the sky’s the limit Media Workshop

BY Valentina Longari and Jessica Schoeman

On the 17th August, the Media Committee held an amazing creative writing workshop in which guest speaker Olwethu Mxoli (Class of 2013), helped the girls dive into their creative side and left them feeling inspired.
Olwethu Mxoli is a very accomplished poet, with her work being published in a national textbook. Her outlook on life has allowed her to flourish; guiding others to do the same. Mrs Peltason remembers her fondly as an “abundant life force with a generous smile” and through her creative lesson was reminded of one of Olwethu’s speeches many years ago entitled “Fairy Dust”.
The workshop centred on finding your inspiration and working under pressure; a task many of the girls seemed to excel in, as we were reminded that even art has a deadline. The ladies shaped clay into what they believed was their best description of what being a woman meant, and then used their clay creation as inspiration to write a poem (which described what their artwork meant) using the key factor of: when you come to a powerful word, jump to the next line.
In our next activity, our inspired minds pictured the pouring rain, smelled the moist and marshmallowy ground, felt the crisp winter air and then described our feelings and senses of the beautiful day, in a way that someone who had not been outside could see, feel and even breathe what we had experienced.
For our last activity, the girls smelled a variety of everyday cooking ingredients in order to awaken their senses and inspiration as well as to evoke a memory. We learnt that even a simple smell could inspire creativity and lead us to destinations with the wildest poems and stories ever imagined, but we also learnt that many of us do not know what common kitchen items actually smell like… Curry spice was labelled as chicken spice and garam masala was labelled as steak and chops spice… This was incredibly amusing.
Throughout this incredible workshop there was only one rule: erasers were banned. This rule was very strange to the majority of the girls until Olwethu explained why… She lives by a philosophy that no one should hide their mistakes but rather own them and therefore erasing your words is the biggest mistake that one can make.
The workshop ended off with Olwethu performing one of her very own poems for us, which left the girls in awe and everybody sat enthralled, watching Olwethu’s rendition of her breath-taking creation:
The 11 o'clock train by Olwethu Mxoli
On Tuesdays I take the 11 o'clock train
it's a twenty two minute walk
the last two minutes,
the short jump from the corner of Spar
to the station.
And I know
that no matter how bad my week has been
I will smile
and pretend not to notice him stare
at my breasts
and pretend not to be scared
when he insists on walking me
the rest of the way
I do not want to offend him
I do not want him to think I am rude
I do not want him to think that I think I am better
than him
 
because then he might grab me
by my hair
drag me behind the corner
kick me so hard I forget how to scream
then they'll take turns
him,
his friends...
I don't want to sit in a police station
for half an hour
while the man behind the desk fills out paperwork on stolen cellphones
certifies identity documents
while I replay it
over and over and over
How he shoved his fist down my throat
and I couldn't breathe
and I thought I was going to die
and I didn't want to die
with him inside of me
I don't want to sit in a courtroom
and listen to him say he didn't do it
listen to his friends say they weren't there
listen to the shopkeeper say he didn't hear me
scream
even as my vowels ripped the paint
from his walls
I don't want it to be
my voice vs his
because my skirt will always be too short
I'll always have had too much to drink
be too stuck up
I should have just said hi...
on Tuesdays I take the 11 o'clock train
it's a twenty two minute walk
the last two minutes I hold my breath
and pray he leaves me alone
By the end of the workshop the Riebeek ladies had a new outlook on poetry and how to go about writing it. Their writing tasks resulted in wonderful first drafts of poetry and unlocked a talent many girls did not realise they had but also taught them that through hard work and perseverance greatness could be reached as it is not possible for your first attempt to be a masterpiece. Olwethu’s free spirited ways and her love of life attitude had the ladies in a state of absolute glee and wonder, as they discovered a new world of poetry and creative writing.
A huge thank you go to Mrs Gerber, the Media club and especially Olwethu Mxoli for this incredible workshop that inspired so many ladies.

 August 19, 2017
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