This post was written by program intern, Olaya Barr.
The 2014 Anthology is coming soon, and in it you can get a glimpse of the outstanding range of what “Breaking Through,” means for the creative minds behind Girls Write Now. Each year, we collect the strongest works of our mentees and mentors and compile them to publish an award-winning literary journal.
This year’s anthology showcases stories both intimate and universal, and through each piece you can witness not only the talents of our young writers, but also the friendships that bond each mentee and mentor pair. Tuhfa and Josleen are just one of those many duos.
Tuhfa Begum’s “The Feminist in Me,” reveals nuances concerning her relationship with her mother, her mentor, her culture, feminism, and ultimately, herself; it is well worth the twenty-three revisions and one panic attack she claims to have endured to reach its completion. Tuhfa Begum and Josleen Wilson had a breakthrough while Tuhfa was writing her piece, “The Feminist in Me.” Tuhfa describes a particularly memorable pair session:
“Both of us are too emotionally invested in this piece to give up now.“It’s too long”, I say to Josleen. “We’ve come so far. This piece has warmth, and we can’t lose that. Let’s submit this version to Scholastic, and we can work on another version for your college essay,” says Josleen.
“We scribble away, lost in our own worlds. We have no clue where our journey will take us. One Scholastic Gold Key and a National Medal later, we are still learning together” says Josleen.
“In ways I didn’t fully appreciate, my mother was my role model. While the mothers of many of my classmates were doctors or lawyers, my mother juggled working a minimum wage job serving fast food and taking care of her family. If others disparaged me, my mother encouraged me to work hard and persevere against obstacles.” -Tuhfa Begum, “The Feminist in Me”
In her story, a boy mocks: “Why don’t you take cooking class like the other girls do? At least you’d learn something useful.” Through Tuhfa’s narrative, we begin to see how what starts as an insulting and condescending comment transforms into an opportunity for empowerment. It is because of her mentor’s comment “Even in spaces of confinement, women can find liberation,” that the protagonist discovers a joyful retort and sense of pride.
“Girls Write Now has given me a platform that allows me to tell my story, and in doing so, wonderful things have happened.” -Tuhfa Begum
Tuhfa’s story is one of the many gems showcased in this year’s anthology. If you enjoy reading stories and poems that celebrate women’s self-worth and surface honest emotions, then you are in for a treat.