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Powerful voices found at course

JENNY LING
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014
Dana Cumin
PUBLISHED WRITER: Dana Cumin recommends the upcoming writing workshops for migrant women.

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Writer Dana Cumin went through eight months of cancer treatment for leukaemia in 2007 and 2008.

But it wasn't until five years later, with the help of a writers' workshop, that she felt ready to publish the notes she wrote in her diary while in hospital.

The Mt Eden resident says completing writing classes for migrant women, New Kiwi Women Write Their Stories, helped her deal with the experience.

"In general to express yourself in any form of art - whether it be dancing, or painting or writing - it's an important outlet for anyone with a traumatic experience.

"To be exposed to so many other writers was invaluable."

The Mt Eden resident is a research manager and writes in her spare time.

She is currently working on a novel about her time spent living in Japan and New Zealand.

Born in Israel, she studied English literature for an arts degree at Tel Aviv University. She continued her studies at Massey University in Palmerston North after moving to New Zealand in 1998.

She remembers pestering her mum to buy a typewriter when she was a little girl.

"So my mum got me one and I would type away on different short stories," she says.

The Auckland Council-run workshops were created in 2011 to help migrant women express themselves.

This year, 40 women will attend the free classes from February 1 to 23 at Sandringham Community Centre.

They will receive professional guidance from award-winning New Zealand authors including Janet Charman, Johanna Emeney, Miriam Barr, Riemke Ensing, Sarah Laing, Siobhan Harvey, Paula Morris and Renee Liang.

Facilitator and writer Renee Liang says writing is a great way to meet others, record experiences and memories and discover new talent. Last year women from 15 countries including England, Iran, Korea and Australia attended, she says.

"Each time we've run the workshops, the most amazing and inspiring stories have come out.

"Some people have been here in New Zealand for over 20 years and we had someone from Ireland who had signed up after nine days in the country.

"We have had a couple of women who were refugees and lots of women who came here as backpackers when they were travelling and never really left."

The stories are collated by Ms Liang and published in an anthology called New Beginnings, which will be available from public libraries and book shops.

Contact sarah.carian@

aucklandcouncil.govt.nz or 367 3095.

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