Dancing with the Dead
This post was written by Development Intern, Megan Malloy.
Last night, acclaimed author and journalist Sarah Murray spoke to a crowded room about something we don’t usually speak about: death. All proceeds from the event went towards supporting GWN’s programs and mission. Murray is the author of the book Making an Exit: From the Magnificent to the Macabre, How We Dignify Death. The book has been called “an Eat, Pray, Love for the afterlife” by the Washington Post, and it’s a medley of personal memoir, anthropological research, and philosophical insights.
“It’s so important to support young writers,” said Sarah. “I didn’t have a huge amount of support while I was at school, and so to have had something like this would have been phenomenal. If I can contribute to that in any way, that’s made me happy.”
The evening’s festivities were held in the stunning offices of Interface, the world’s largest producer of carpet tile. Not only is Interface located in the shadow of the Empire State Building, but it has a sustainable business model that will reduce the company’s carbon footprint to zero by the year 2020.
Board member Marci Alboher introduced Girls Write Now and mentee Misbah Awan. Misbah regaled the audience with her words, reading a fictional account of a young boy cremating his baby brother. Misbah moved the crowd with her piece’s evocative use of detail, and the contrasts she drew between the innocence of childhood and the finitude of death. After sharing her story, Misbah spoke about the influence of GWN in her life, saying that it has given her the confidence to share her work. Misbah now works at the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE), an advocacy group for immigrant and refugee women and girls, and Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), a community organizing group for South Asian Americans.
Our fabulous mentor, Hadia Sheerazi, spoke about what it was like to grow up female in Pakistan, and how having a father who emphasized girls’ education made all the difference in her future. She spoke about the bond she shares with her mentee, Carmen, and how she tries to impart to Carmen that “what you have to say matters.”
Overall, the event raised $1525. Thank you to all who attended, and all who gave generously to support our work!
Check out an excerpt of Misbah’s writing below.
- Misbah Awan, 7 National Anthems
Out of all my travels, it’s the children I remember, with perfect clarity; they are impossible to forget. Their tiny hands. Their vibrant smiles. Their eyes, dancing. Their tattered clothes, or lack thereof. But this one was different. And it was only then I had realized that this is not a personal world, no matter how much of it recognizes you in the streets…
Out of these children, no one paid more than a second’s worth of attention to a little boy, about ten years old, walking by alongside the edge of the dirt road. The boy was wearing faded white clothes, which barely protected him from the heat of the late afternoon sun. His feet were bare and his arms stiff. He walked while carrying a baby on his back. The little head behind his was tipped back, as if the baby were fast asleep.
Passing strangers opened a pathway for this boy simultaneously — it was a becoming routine amongst the war-weary nation. A lone black dog wagged his tail when he passed by…
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