Out of Silence: ASU Students to Read Work From the Afghan Women's Writing Project

Somewhere in Kabul, Afghanistan, there's house with a few laptops, journals, and dictionaries. The house's exact location is kept secret; it's the meeting place and home of the Afghan Women's Writing Project, and its location has to be kept secret to stay safe.

The project started as an idea of novelist Masha Hamilton. She'd been to Afghanistan a number of times throughout the 90s and early 2000s, and was afraid that because of strict government in times of conflict and war, women's voices were quickly being lost.

Hamilton encouraged women to voice their opinions and experiences by submitting their work (in English) to the program, which mentors writers and publishes works on its website.

And on Tuesday, May 3, you can hear these writings read by ASU students more than 7,000 miles away.

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The poems and excerpts landed in the eight graduate students' hands through a chain of events, which began in 2009, when ASU professor and writer Melissa Pritchard packed her bags and a bullet-proof vest and headed to Afghanistan

Pritchard says she's always been adventurous, and looking back, she still doesn't know why she thought embedding herself with a troop of women soldiers in the outskirts of Afghanistan was a good idea. But she had to tell their stories.

During her near two-week stay, she befriended Sr. Ashton Goodman, a 21-year-old with a like sense of adventure and a talent for writing. After Goodman was killed in May of that year, Pritchard wrote another story. It was picked up by O Magazine, which was read by Masha Hamilton.

Hamilton and Pritchard began corresponding. Prtichard had started the Ashton Goodman Fund to support writing and theater programs for Afghan women -- something Pritchard says she knew Goodman was passionate about.

Today, The Afghan Womens Writing Project and the Ashton Goodman Fund help women in Afghanistan to publish their experience and share their writing with one another.

Pritchard's students at ASU will read poetry and essays from writers in the project this Tuesday, May 3, at 7 p.m. in Neeb Hall on the Tempe Campus. For more information, visit the AWWP and ASU websites.


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