Tag Archives: Maya Chrowdhry

LGBT history month

A blog post by Jemima, library graduate trainee.

Each year, over the month of February, the lives and achievements of the LGBT community are celebrated, the history of the gay rights and civil rights movements is remembered and awareness is raised for issues still faced by LGBT people across the world today. Since LGBT history month was last celebrated in 2014, equal marriage has been recognised and legalised in England. Whilst in the world of film, the release of the award winning The Imitation Game has brought attention to Alan Turing, a key figure in cracking Nazi Germany’s naval Enigma code which helped to win WWII, only to later be criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality, leading to Turing taking his own life. This last year has also seen Estonia become the first former Soviet country to recognise same-sex partnerships, Michael Sam, an American football star, made sporting history by coming out as gay and Russia’s anti-gay law sparked protests across the world in the run up to the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Here at Brunel Library we have our own collections of work by LGBT authors which will be promoted over the month of February through our Pinterest page and ground floor book displays. However, works by or relating to the LGBT community do not exist only on our shelves. If you wish to discover the work of Maya Chowdhry who explores lesbian relationships and female identities in her writing, or to introduce yourself to the Indian photographer Sunil Gupta who produced work on the experience of gay men in India, or if you are interested in the exploring the area of sexual orientation in sport, you need to visit Brunel’s Special Collections.

Bitch lit

Bitch lit

Our Maya Chowdhry collection includes Bitch Lit, a cleverly subversive celebration of powerful, female anti-heroes; Acts of Passion: Sexuality, Gender and Performance, which focuses exclusively on lesbian performance work from representations of lesbian sex in the media to what the term “lesbian playwright” means within contemporary culture, and Lesbian Self-Writing: The Embodiment of Experience, a collection of writing by lesbian women on their own lives and experiences. The Sunil Gupta collection includes information on his gallery exhibits and newspaper reviews of his work, with significant media focus being placed on his decision to document himself receiving treatment for AIDS through photography.

Literature review of sexual orientation in sport

Literature review of sexual orientation in sport

Finally, A Literature Review of Sexual Orientation in Sport was carried out in 2008 by Professor Celia Brackenridge, who worked as Director of the Centre for Youth Sport and Athlete Welfare, here at Brunel University from 2005-2010 and forms just a small part of her large and fascinating collection. Visit Special Collections over February and discover something new this LGBT history month.

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Against the grain

The culmination of various workshops held in Special Collections this academic year, using our SALIDAA (now re-named SADAA) collection, was a Saturday afternoon event at the West Wing Arts Centre in Slough.

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Founders of the AWWC Ravinder Randhawa, Rahila Gupta and Rukhsana Ahmad in conversation with Shyama Perera

The afternoon included reflections from the original creators of the Asian Women Writers’ Collective on how the group had started and then evolved, turning from a writers’ group to a writers’ collective.

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AWWC founding members with their daughters.

Later on some of the founding members returned to their stage accompanied by their daughters and discussed how they too went against the grain to pursue uncertain careers.

One of the founding members, Maya Chrowdhry, read some of her poetry to the gathering, and was interviewed by Lakshmi Holström (one of the founding trustees of SALIDAA).

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Maya Chowdhry reading some of her poetry

The afternoon was a celebration of achievement: the two community groups who had visited us earlier in the year for workshops on Preserving community heritage and culture, where they learnt about caring for historic collections, had then gone on to learn skills in oral history, and gained certificates in Heritage Skills. They were presented with their certificates by the Mayor of Slough.

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The Mayor of Slough presenting Heritage Skills certificates

And another group, this time of local women, who had worked on a creative writing project based around the SALIDAA collections, had the opportunity to read their work aloud, and also see it published in a booklet.

The booklet will shortly be available in Special Collections.

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Creative writing group participants reading aloud from their work.

Maya Chowdhry Collection

A creative writing workshop

A creative writing workshop

One of our collections housed here at Brunel as part of the SALIDAA (South Asian Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive) archives include a collection of work by the writer Maya Chowdhry. It is proving to be an inspirational resource for teaching creative writing.

Maya Chowdhry grew up in Scotland. She began as a film maker, but went on to write short fiction, poetry and plays. Her experience includes running workshops for young people and a residency in a theatre.  She is an interactive artist, who uses modern media to make her work more accessible. Chowdhry has written on the experiences of Asian women, and on lesbian relationships.

Maya Chowdhry's notebook

One of Maya Chowdhry’s notebooks

Our collection focuses on her work as a writer for the theatre. It includes some of her play scripts, and extracts from her plays. We are fortunate to have some of her writer’s notebooks. These show the research behind her writing, and how it develops.  The notebook for “Tara” has drawings, photocopies, photographs, postcards, her poems, notes, and diary entries. She writes pages that explore the characters and the story that she is creating.

This archive has recently been catalogued and now appears on Archives Hub. As well as being of interest to researchers of Asian literature and the experiences of Asian women, it also gives a valuable insight into the process of creative writing.