To mark Earth Day, April 22, and World Book Day, April 23, the U.S. Embassy hosted a two-hour creative writing workshop on the theme of environmental literacy for 26 amateur writers on April 24. In his opening remarks, Cultural Affairs Officer Larry Socha, read a selection from Walden, a book by famed nineteenth century American writer, Henry David Thoreau. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived,” Thoreau wrote. Thoreau’s description of his retreat to nature at Walden Pond to gain better perspective of society is one of the most famous pieces of American literature.
Continuing on the themes of nature and literature, three professional writers led conversations on narrative structure, imagery, and the use of literary devices. Dr. Fatima Akilu, author of Preye and the Sea of Plastics—a children’s book that encourages environmental sustainability—discussed the need for more literature that promoted environmental literacy and gave useful tips for structuring and organizing ideas when writing. Dr. Akilu’s session was followed by a 25-minute selection from a massive open online courses (MOOCs) on developing a character, from the University of Iowa International Writing Program. Ms. Chinelo Onwualu, a science fiction writer and editor of “Omenana”—an African speculative fiction magazine—engaged the audience on the use of the five senses to create a vivid image in the reader’s mind. Finally, Mr. Dike Chukwumerije, a writer and creative director of the Night of Spoken Words performance poetry show, concluded the workshop with a session on using literary devices to make a story memorable. “A story is man’s earliest simulator,” he said.