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Dawn Garisch

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

About Dawn Garisch

I am fascinated by the body as metaphor, as dream, as map of the unconscious. I am intrigued by the creative process, by the world as oracle, and by how everything, including the hardest event, is a gift if you can take it.

How did I get to this point? I feel like a lake that has been fed by diverse tributaries.

Born in Zimbabwe, I came to South Africa when I was nine. I loved stories, and wanted to be an actress, a librarian, or a designer of adverts (!). Poems arrived from an early age. My father wanted me to have financial security; my sister wanted me to flourish in a masculine world. At UCT I studied medicine, and learnt about the body, and heard many stories from patients, some miraculous, others tragic. As a doctor I worked in fields as diverse as occupational medicine, primary health care and accident and emergency work.

I fell in love. I fell ill. My body was trying to tell me something, something that resisted allopathic cure. Other teachers from the fields of Process Oriented Psychology, movement therapy and psychotherapy expanded my knowledge of the body. I learnt something about myself and relationships.

I wrote about it all in journals, poetry and stories, and found teachers here too who encouraged me to publish. I have had poetry, novels, flash fiction, short stories, adult literacy booklets, travel pieces and articles published, and have had a short film, several documentaries, a short play and television dramas produced. I am slowly changing from a doctor who writes into a writer who doctors.

Writing, for me, is about mental health. If something is bothering me, I sit down and work it out on the page. ‘A story is a problem to be solved’, said Doris Lessing. So is life, and I’d like my life to be a good story. Sometimes I wonder: ‘What will happen next?’, as though my life were a book whose meaning is slowly emerging as I turn the pages of the days.


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