Award-winning author supports writers at Sheffield literature festival
Writers who have been praised on the literary circuit for their reflections on lives of pain and exile appeared alongside Sheffield novelist Lesley Glaister at the Off the Shelf festival.
Glaister shares common ground with the writers from the Medical Foundation, having attended the esteemed Arvon Foundation. It was here that Glaister's talent was spotted by novelist Hilary Mantel. She went on to win several accolades, including the Somerset Maugham Award for Honour They Father and the Yorkshire Post Book Award for Limestone and Clay.
Writers from the MF's group therapy project, 'Write to Life', have in the past attended Arvon for intensive residential writing courses where they are encouraged to pursue their literary aspirations while also benefiting from the settings of an environment far removed from where many of them have been forced to flee.
Clients who read their work at the festival represent a handful of more than 2,000 torture survivors who are seen by the charity every year where they are offered free medical care, psychological treatment and practical assistance. Some of them will have been persecuted as a result of their work as writers, journalists, academics and political activists.
Among those reading from their work were a woman who fled Uganda. Both her father and husband were murdered by government forces, her children were abducted and she was then detained in appalling conditions in a remote forest camp.
A former journalist from Cameroon who was tortured because of her attempts to expose government corruption read a piece about the struggles she has faced since arriving in the UK. Others will read semi-autobiographical works of poetry and prose.
Glaister followed the clients' readings with some of her own work.
In the past few years, members of 'Write to Life' and its Scotland-based sister group, 'All Write', have appeared at Edinburgh International Book Festival and Ledbury Poetry Festival, with some also reading their work at events in Brighton and Reading.