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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Helen Benedict

author Helen Benedict smiling directly at the camera and an image of her book Map of Hope and Sorrow

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing shapes and sharpens my thoughts, assumptions, my language and imagination, forcing me to deeply examine my own beliefs and all that surround me. Likewise, for everyone else in the world, the most urgent role of writing is to take us out of our own skins and heads and into those of others. More than any other medium, writing can awaken our compassion and empathy, the two most valuable tools against prejudice and hatred.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? To read until I am so inspired I have to write something, anything.

What is your favorite time to write? In the mornings and late afternoons after a bout of vigorous exercise and reawakened my lazy brain.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Read, read, read, and then don’t talk about writing, just write.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? With hatred and prejudice being peddled all over the world by the far right, it seems more urgent than ever to turn to books that break down barriers between cultures, religions, genders, races and all the other tools we use to turn one another into enemies.

Helen Benedict’s Map of Hope and Sorrow: Stories of Refugees Trapped in Greece, co-edited by Eyad Awwadawnan is out today with Footnote Press.