As we launch into 2021, still uncertain of what to expect from our working and personal lives, it’s important to allow ourselves space and time to process this change.
Join Natasha Junejo, founder of South Asian Writers, in partnership with Ealing Libraries as we talk to poet, Maya Kalaria and singer, writer, and performer, Renu Arora. We shall be exploring Maya and Renu’s powerful work around grief, loss, and change; how this has shaped their approach to life, and where we can find beauty and resilience when things overwhelm us.
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Maya is a published poet, experienced broadcaster, trained mental health engagement worker, and hypnotherapist. She is also a qualified astrologer.
Born in multicultural London to an Indian family and raised in the northern town of Barnsley, Maya sadly lost her mother to Leukaemia at the age of nine. This life event had a profound impact on her future path and she has since devoted much of her life to helping people make sense of grief. She speaks powerfully and eloquently about the related themes of misogyny, racism and the colonial trauma that she experienced as a result of her early life circumstances.
A lifelong poet and writer with a BA Hons in English and Creative Writing, Maya’s debut book of poetry, Half Woman Half Grief, speaks from a place of truth, trauma and healing for anyone who has experienced grief of any kind; personal, collective, environmental, and colonial. She vulnerably explores the desperate sadness, fury, and shame she experienced on her healing journey, and helps others to do the same.
She’s had the honour of speaking to thousands of young people about mental health in schools, colleges and universities, as well as speaking on BBC Radio about grief, identity, femme empowerment and bullying.
As an engagement worker, she ran weekly mental health hubs for young people and created and facilitated various training sessions and workshops, including creative writing for mental health. She has also worked in the field of domestic abuse and written about forced marriage for the organisation Operation Black Vote. She recently collaborated with gender equality organisation TIGER to create and run a Femme Empowerment workshop, which was featured in Bristol 24/7. Maya is based in Bristol, you can follow her on Instagram and keep up to date with her projects and purchase her incredible poetry collection collection via her website.
In 2017, Renu had a life-changing accident, along with a Near Death Experience in which she was hit by a bus and dragged under its wheel.
Renu is a UK based artist with over 16 years experience as an actor, singer, songwriter and director. She has worked at venues including Southbank Centre and New Vic Theatre and her work has appeared at venues such as Soho Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East & Arcola Theatre. She is a regular contributor on BBC Radio and her lockdown inspired work has recently been broadcast on BBC Sounds.
Since her accident, Renu now focuses her artistic practice upon creating work informed by her experience. The Burgundy Book, an arts podcast based on her accident, the Near Death Experience and the journey that followed is due for release on iTunes and all major podcast platforms in Autumn 2021. Renu is based in London, you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and keep up to date with her projects on her website.
Chair: Natasha Junejo
Natasha Junejo is the founder of South Asian Writers, a community that began from a viral hashtag inviting writers of South Asian descent to introduce themselves and their work in 2017. The community has since flourished and aims to platform and uplift writers from the SA community through; features, book launches, speaking events, and collaborative visual ethnography projects like, Our Stories Matter.
In the wake of the EU Referendum result, Natasha co-founded two social justice movements, Worrying Signs and More Tea Less Hate, focused on exposing and fighting politically motivated racist and xenophobic abuse and violence that gained worldwide press attention and influenced UK government policy.
Natasha is passionate about creating access and opportunity for marginalised people and is committed to this fight at every level of society. She is currently developing a television and film writing programme across the US and UK for BIPOC writers and writers from underrepresented communities who have little to no prior experience in this area. In 2018, she was a national finalist in Penguin Random House’s Editorial Scheme and she now proudly leads the Literary arm of South Asian Heritage Month UK.
Natasha is based in London, you can follow her work on Twitter on @SthAsianWriters, @natashajunejo, and on Instagram.
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We look forward to seeing you on the 15th February, Registration is free and everyone is welcome