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Avani Shah Interviews ‘Writing our Future’ Writer, Rosalind Jana

2017 Word Factory apprentice, Avani Shah interviews award-winning author, poet and journalist, Rosalind Jana. Rosalind has contributed to Bristol’s youth-led Rife magazine and will be at Word Factory’s ‘Writing our Future’ Citizen Festival event on Nov 11 to talk about the importance of voice and its role in turning young people into active citizens.

What does belonging mean to you?
That’s such a good question. I think belonging, to me, is about inhabiting space – or maybe, more specifically, about knowing that I have a place. One where I fit. Where I feel safe. Belonging is about ease within my own skin, and recognition of the places where I have sought (and found) warmth, home, comfort, conversation, community, and, occasionally, quiet.

Is there anything in your daily rather than writing life that has made you question your identity or citizenship in some way?
Oh gosh, all sorts of things. The news. Difficult conversations. New experiences. Being confronted with worldviews and life-choices that perhaps require me to re-evaluate mine again (or defend them). The slow figuring out of parts of my identity, and finding the right language to describe that figuring.

Specifically when it comes to citizenship though, my family history (I’m part Czech) has played a significant role. But really, I think this pretty hellish last year in the UK, given the often toxic narratives and ideologies around Brexit – well, that’s really made me dwell on definitions of citizenship and country.

What kind of future – good or bad – do you imagine in the UK in ten years time?
At the moment I honestly don’t know. Everything seems so unstable and full of change that it’s hard to say anything definitive about the possible shape of things – politically, socially, and culturally – after another decade. I really feel like I have no idea.

However, I saw Rebecca Solnit talk recently, and one of the things I continually cling on to is her definition of hope as something active and pragmatic. I don’t feel especially optimistic about the UK’s future, but I know that my response to has to be to do things: to try and help build better systems where I can, fight for what I believe in, listen, always learn, and be both responsive and proactive.

Join us from 10-12 November at the University of Liverpool’s London campus, and be part of the story.

Rosalind Jana is an award-winning author, poet and journalist. She has written for places including British Vogue, BBC Radio 4, Refinery29, Broadly, Buzzfeed, Suitcase, and Dazed, and is currently Violet magazine’s junior editor. Her debut non-fiction book ‘Notes on Being Teenage’ was released by Hachette (Wayland) in 2016. Her first poetry collection ‘Branch and Vein’ is available through the New River Press. She is currently working on several new projects, spanning fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.