Growing up in Blacktown

By Maryann Jenkins
Beautiful, poignant, compelling, honest, inspiring.
Some of Blacktown’s greatest writers spoke candidly on their experiences of growing up in the district at the Stories From 2148 panel event at the Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts centre.
Featuring Evelyn Araluen, Maryam Azam, Sarah Malik and Joy Adan, the event was hosted by Tongan-Australian writer and Mount Druitt arts worker, Winnie Dunn, from Sweatshop.
The session focussed on their personal stories, exploring what was unique about living in Blacktown and navigating experiences through childhood to adulthood from their perspective as women of colour.
“It was a wonderful and enlightening talk with great nostalgia,” Susan Doel, Blacktown Arts Programming Coordinator, told the Independent.
“Winnie Dunn curated a fantastic conversation with four outstanding female writers, each with a unique connection to Blacktown.
“We had a highly engaged and enthusiastic audience hear what these panellists had to say and their valorising the local area. They didn’t gloss over anything but incorporated the challenges they faced with resilience, pride and love.”
These high achieving women are all notables in their field.
Sarah Malik is Walkley-award winning Australian investigative journalist and television presenter. She currently works as a presenter and writer for SBS Voices.
Evelyn Araluen is a poet, researcher, co-editor of the Overland literary journal and winner of multiple literary prizes including the Nakata Brophy Prize for Young Indigenous Writers.
Joy Adan, author at Finding Joy, is a Filipino-Australian writer, business journalist by day, memoirist by night and brush lettering calligrapher when she can fit it in.
Winnie Dunn is the general manager of the Sweatshop Western Sydney Literacy Movement. Winnie is the editor of several anthologies, most notable Sweatshop Women – Australia’s first anthology entirely written, edited and designed by women of colour. Author of the Hijab Files and Kellyville high school teacher, Maryam Azam, admitted the first time she was ever asked to write about her own experiences was at a Sweatshop writer’s workshop.
Growing up as a student she was taught to follow western writing conventions, to write on topics she knew little about. Maryam was the recipient of a 2015 WestWords Emerging Writers’ Fellowship.
Sweatshop is a literacy movement in western Sydney devoted to empowering emerging writers from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, through reading, writing and critical thinking.
It provides research, training, mentoring and employment for emerging and established writers and arts practitioners from Indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds.
The event was curated and moderated by Winnie Dunn and catered by the not-for-profit Afghan Tea Corner, offering traditional Persian treats which engaged attendees in more conversation.
Some 250 people watched it via live stream on Facebook. If you missed it, you can find Stories from 2148 on the Blacktown Arts Facebook page.

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