The Department of English and Humanities at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) concluded its six-week long Creative Writing Certificate Course on August 26, 2023 at a grand ceremony on its premises. The event’s highlight was the participants’ readings of their writings after which they received their Certificates of Completion. The focus of this iteration of the course was creative nonfiction.
The Chief Guest of the event, Mr. Sudeep Chakravarti, writer, historian, and currently Director, Center for South Asian Studies, ULAB, encouraged the participants to use different techniques to tell their stories. He also pointed out that writers must be able to accept feedback and willing to revise their writings repeatedly.
ULAB’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Imran Rahman, spoke about the importance of storytelling to appeal to a wider audience and hence, the necessity for good writing skills. He also spoke about ULAB’s unique initiatives such as the MA in Literature and Creative Writing program as well as the Dhaka Translation Center that support the student- and research-centric activities of the university.
ULAB’s Special Advisor to the Board of Trustees, Prof. Shamsad Mortuza, expressed his appreciation for the writings produced during the course and encouraged the participants to incorporate humor, if they could. He also reminisced about the early days of the certificate course and his session for this iteration.
Prof. Syed Manzoorul Islam, another facilitator of the course, spoke about the importance of truth in writing. He emphasized the need to be honest and authentic, especially in this time of fragmented post-truths.
Arifa Ghani Rahman, Head of the Department, mentioned how this course helped to discover some unique talents who later became full time students of ULAB’s MA in English program. One of them, a BUET engineer by training, not only became ULAB’s gold medalist, he is now pursuing his PhD in Literature in the US. Another student, with a background in finance, completed her MA in Creative Writing at ULAB and published her first collection of short stories at last year’s Ekushe Boi Mela. This, according to Ms. Rahman, shows that successful creative writers can come from any background.
As a special treat, Joyee Chakma, one of the participants of the course, sang a multilingual rendition of “Jamaica Farewell” in Bangla and Chakma. The song had been co-translated by Joyee and her friends.
ULAB’s Department of English and Humanities launched the Creative Writing Certificate Course in 2016, one year after the launch of its MA in English program which offered as one of its three Tracks, a degree in Literature and Creative Writing – a unique offering in Bangladesh. Many wished to explore the program before making a commitment, and hence the idea of a certificate course was born. Since then, the course has been offered every year, focusing on specific genres and catering to diverse groups of participants. The current cohort was comprised of university teachers, development agency professionals, graduate and undergraduate students, and PR professionals. While most had a background in English, some did not. And yet, what brought them together was their great desire to write.
The course was designed by Maisha Hossain, pursuing her PhD in Creative Writing at Florida State University. She also conducted the practical sessions of the course. The facilitators of the course were Prof. Shamsad Mortuza, Prof. Kaiser Haq, Prof. Syed Manzoorul Islam, Prof. Azfar Hussain, and Ms. Arifa Ghani Rahman, who all delivered high impact lectures on aspects of creative nonfiction and editing.
The participants were Abrar Farhan Zaman, Afroza Khan, Dola Saha, Joyee Chakma, Kifayat Jahan Zerin, KM Arefin, Mahadir Omer Fahad, Md. Shahrear Talukder, Md. Abul Hashem Rony, Sonika Islam, Tanzina Tabassum Nova, Tasnim Naz, and Tazim Sikder Arna.
ULAB looks forward to conducting the certificate course on translation next.