Tariro writing workshop: Reflections from author Cai Emmons

Tariro writing workshop: Reflections from author Cai Emmons

Tariro student Melody at a writing workshop held by author Cai Emmons

Today, I’m sharing author Cai Emmons’s reflections on the writing workshop held for Tariro students last weekend, as well as the remaining three short stories written by participants in the workshops.  Enjoy reading!  Here is Cai’s account of the writing workshop:

On Sunday morning I led a writing workshop with 6 of the Tariro girls who came to Jennifer’s house.  I had decided that I would try to get them to think about character as that pertains to the writing of fiction and often to non-fiction writing as well.

We began by talking about other people: through how they look, how they speak, how they behave, through what others say of them.  Though initially they were shy about speaking, I teased and cajoled them and tried not to fill the silences myself, and eventually they began to talk.  “What have you learned about me and how have you learned it?” I asked and they had plenty of answers!

We then read aloud some excerpts from stories by Sandra Cisneros and Charles Baxter.  We talked about how they created characters on the page, and I encouraged them to be specific in citing text that informed them about the characters.

After a muffin and tea break, I asked them to write about a character of their choosing, either fictional or from their own lives.  I gave them about 15 minutes to work and afterwards we read the results aloud.  You will be (or have been) reading some of the results.

I look forward to working with these students again, over a period of days, perhaps at next year’s empowerment camp.  I would like them to understand the value of rewriting, and to claim writing as a powerful tool for self-expression and for expressing reactions to the world at large.

I loved working with these girls who are so much in the thick of discovering what they have to offer the world.

And here are the remaining stories…



From the day her husband died people turned their backs on her.  They thought that she was responsible for her husband’s death.

Because of the four children she had, she didn’t give up.  Jean worked very hard so that her children would be educated.   She was a very humble person and most of the people admired her.  Some of the people respected the work she was doing because in her community widows find it difficult to go on with their lives without their husbands.  Her children shared the pain, sorrow and humiliation with their mother from their relatives.  It is said that learning much, suffering much and studying much are the three pillars of education, that’s what her first son did.  He was highly educated and was able to look after his mother and his other brothers.

He thanked his mother because if it wasn’t for her, he would not be educated.

Jean lived happily because of being strong and not giving up on her family because of what other people think or say about her.



“There’s your water” Mary said handing Jane a glass.  Jane smiled graciously at her and waited until Mary had exited the room.  As soon as Mary was gone Jane took the water and poured it into a bowl clearly marked for Butch the family dog.  Jane crouched down on the rough wooden floor and started lapping the water using her toungue.  Just as Mary walked in… A few hours later Mary had been deciding which clothes to wear to dinner and had settled on a turquoise coloured dress, just then Jane walked in and started pulling the dress away from Mary- using her teeth.  Mary ended up wearing a torn dress covered in spirt to the restaurant…. Moonlight shone through the window.  Mary woke up and alked across the room to the window.  She looked out and saw Jane sitting on a rock in the garden.  Mary snuck outside.  The darkness was here and there was no sound except a loud piercing howl.  “I knew it” Mary said walking nearer.  Mary saw Jane start to get hairy and saw very sharp teetch replace Janes normal ones.  Just then Jane let out a piercing howl.  Mary realized she had gotten her suspisions all wrong- Jane wasn’t half dog, She was part-warewolf…



I had been admiring him for quite a long time and finally this other day, he was there, standing alone, leaning on a wall, with his legs crossed and his arms crossed at his chest.  His shoulders revealing a muscular somebody; somebody who is energetic and very active.  His handsome face was enlightened by a shining smile.  Slowly, he then said, “Hie, my name is Taurai, would you mind if we can talk for a while.”  Without any hesitation, I told him that I was not rushing anywhere so it was nice to have a small chat with him.  We started talking about our backgrounds and the conversation ended up being an intimate one as we gradually discovered that we were both interested in each other.  He was someone who was very open and this was the right man I was looking for!

Watch out for chapter 2


1 comments so far.

One response to “Tariro writing workshop: Reflections from author Cai Emmons”

  1. Hilary Vander Veer says:

    wonderful writings, thanks Cai and Jennifer, tatenda. These girls are amazing and I am so glad you are there supporting them…

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