Budding writers and poets in Bahrain have created a new group
Time Out Bahrain staff
It’s a big fight in the dog-eat-dog world of media, journalism and publishing, never mind being an author – Bahrain’s newest initiative to take the writing scene by storm and unveil a group of talented writers is the Bahrain Writers’ Circle (BWC); with its humble beginnings as a simple discussion, it has evolved from an informal get-together into something that is quite significant within the Bahrain arts community.
The group now brings writers, poets, journalists, authors and the like together on a monthly basis, providing a conversational gambit from general chit-chat right through to the more important stuff. Topics discussed include blogging, freelance writing, editors changing articles, editors making a sameness in the newsprint, loss of staff in journalism, loss of income for freelance journalists per word and so on, and special assignments are also given out each month to help people improve upon their writing and creative thinking. ‘We chatted about how isolated the world of writing can sometimes be, of how self-critical we are, and how difficult it is for writers to get noticed here on the island. The conversation then evolved into what a good idea it would be if we could get other writers (and budding writers) together every so often, mainly to chat and network and feed off each other,’ explains Robin Barratt, founder of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle.
With a successful PR story, and after several mentions in magazines and newspapers, it became apparent that there are many writers in Bahrain eager to get together – a writers’ circle was born. Since February the circle has been growing constantly, with new additions each month. ‘We have well over 50 members now,’ Robin reveals, ‘from the whole spectrum of genres and spheres; from legal commercial writers to bloggers and authors, and freelancers to script writers and poets, and well, everyone!’
Aside from the initial idea to just network, the circle decided to introduce monthly guest speakers and writing projects, with their plans focusing on publishing the BWC anthology, showcasing different personal stories about Bahrain, entitled My Beautiful Bahrain. ‘We hope this will be read by those living in Bahrain, visiting Bahrain or just interested in this magical little island,’ Robin adds. ‘We are also going to publish a selection of poems from some of the best poets here. Over the next six months our ambitions are to develop even further and become an important part of Bahrain’s cultural programme.’
Many problems that writers face in Bahrain are not addressed, as there is no official centre or council yet for budding creative writers, journalists or poets. Of course, once qualified, there are certain unions one can join, but the most important part of any activity should always focus on the grass roots level.
Getting sponsorship for the arts in Bahrain is a big problem, and a challenge that is often spoke about within the art and cultural scene. Many artists do not want a lot of money, but they often require it to pursue their dream and in order to develop their skills. Aside from artists, writers have a big problem too from a purely commercial perspective, as Bahrain is such a small island and readership is limited, it’s hard for local authors to get published, because it is generally unprofitable to print most books.
If that isn’t enough, many writers often complain about censorship; you can write about anything you like, but material conflicting with the social and political environment can land you in hot water.
Being a non-profit organisation, the circle and its members are always on the look-out for new sponsorship opportunities with local companies to try and inject light and interest into the like-minded souls that gather each month. ‘The hardest thing is maintaining momentum and growth with very few resources,’ says Robin. ‘The circle is always on the scout for help and support, whether it be sponsoring a monthly event with soft drinks and nibbles, providing a free meeting room for special events and workshops, or providing us with membership cards and sponsoring our forthcoming publications.’
To become a member, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bahrainwriterscircle.com. Membership is free and meetings are held on the first Sunday of each month. Meetings usually take place at Al Riwaq, with the next on July 3. After a break over Ramadan, meetings will resume on October 2.