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Dawn Garisch

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Working With Your Life Stories: a workshop on writing a memoir

“here I am once again,
disguised as myself”
– from “About Death and Other Things”, a poem by Aleksandar Ristovic

Writing is a way of getting to know who you are, what you are feeling and how you relate to people and the planet. Writing memoir focuses this project on the themes or motifs in one’s own life. We each have a life motif that is more or less unconscious. Yet a distinctive and evolving pattern binds our journey from birth to death into a whole coherent piece.

Imagination is an extraordinary tool. In this workshop we will reclaim imagination as a means to release ourselves into awe and creativity, connectedness and purpose, awareness and pleasure. Through becoming conscious of and engaging with the images that shape our time on earth, we will discover ways to live more creatively, as well as finding refreshing approaches to put our personal stories down on the page.

Beginner writers are welcome.

Course details

Venue: Zwaanswyk, Cape Town
Dates: 27th – 31st May 2013
Times: 09:00 – 13:00 every day
Fee: R1500

To Book

A deposit of R500 secures your place.

What to bring

Unlined, ring-bound A4 notebook and pen
A cushion and a blanket or rug.
Two objects from the period of your life that you want to write about – one that represents something you loved about it, and one that represents something you disliked about that time.

Tea, coffee and snacks are provided.


“I found Dawn Garisch’s memoir-writing course extremely useful and helpful: she provided a structure that held all of us would-be memoirists firmly to our task, while at the same time helping us to get in touch with our senses, our fears, our dreams, our stories. The image that comes to mind is of holding tight to the golden thread that will allow us to go down to the depths and emerge again, unscathed though not unchanged. The sense of community and support that is born of twenty-odd people meeting daily for four days to address themselves to such a deeply individual task was also one of the unexpected pleasures of the experience. I would heartily recommend this course.” – Athalie Crawford

“This course helped me to break through the block created by my own diffidence and reluctance, enabling me to find and become confident in the thread I must pursue in order to be true to myself. Dawn created an atmosphere of trust in which the participants felt free to go as far as they wished on this journey into memory and onto the page. The structure of the course was well thought out and effective, both day by day and as a whole. An unusual, highly effective and striking aspect of Dawn’s facilitative work is her insistence that writing, memory and creativity are not simply to be found in the ‘head’, but are lodged in and distributed through the ‘memory’ to be discovered in the body itself. The course was enlightening, stimulating, moving and fun.” – John Carwright

“Dawn’s memoir writing workshop was a finely crafted and facilitated process that encouraged and enabled us to write. My creativity was stimulated by her use of poetry and prose, her listening and sensing exercises, her considerable knowledge and experience of the act of writing, and her easy manner when it came to holding and guiding the group and the process. In short: an excellent and productive experience!” – Judy Bekker

“The evaluations from your students indicate that many felt they benefitted greatly from your facilitation and encouragement to draw on their own inner resources to spark their writing, and that through this they gained knowledge about themselves and insights that were highly enriching to the writing process. They were given some methodology and tools and felt supported and enabled to be self-reliant in their work. Although this made others used to a more didactic approach insecure at first, they adapted to it and acknowledged its value.” – Feedback from UCT Summer School 2012

Short Biography

Dawn Garisch has had five novels and a collection of poetry published, a short play and short film produced, and has written for television, magazines and newspapers. Three of her novels have been published in the UK.

In 2010 Trespass was shortlisted for the Commonwealth prize in Africa, and in 2011 her poem “Miracle” won the EU Sol Plaatjie Poetry Award.

A non-fiction work Eloquent Body was published by Modjaji in March.

She runs workshops on writing and creative method, is a practising medical doctor and lives in Cape Town.


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