SA Womxn Writers – Day 7: Life Writing in South Africa – Dawn Garisch

ISBN: 9781928232568

This is How It Is

I am an author, medical doctor and a founding member of the Life Righting Collective, (LRC) a non-profit membership organisation which raises funds to sponsor disadvantaged writers and to publish an anthology, This Is How It Is, of true South African stories.

We have a wide range of South African voices in the room during our courses and publish stories from all walks of South African life as a contribution towards healing our fractured and traumatised country.

Our four-fold vision at the LRC

  • To be part of the international medical humanities movement that promotes creative engagement as a valuable resource for individuals and communities
  • To provide a platform for people to write about what happened to them as a process of self-discovery and recovery, which grows confidence, improves communication skills, engenders compassion and builds community
  • To publish memoir to promote reading about people who appear different from ourselves, but often share common human experiences, growing compassion, empathy and hope
  • To assist disadvantaged people to gain traction in the world by learning to manage their lives and express themselves better.

Please see our website for further details:

Some South African stories

Reviews of This Is How It Is

This Is How It Is gave me insights about South Africa that I wouldn’t have had access to, from the perspective of such an impressive array of talented writers and poets.  It’s cleansing, distressing, uplifting, sad, and cathartic, allowing me to learn something about what makes South Africa what it is, story by story, poem by poem.” Bridget Drinka Professor of Linguistics. University of Texas, San Antonio

“I was blown away by the quality of the writingMemoir writing is sometimes seen as mainly therapy, but it isn’t readable if it is not also a work of literature/art. In the pieces I have read the authors have used their own lives as material for the production of an artefact that has value for others, not just themselves.” Dr Mignonne Breier Author, academic and policy researcher in education, University of Cape Town

“Many of these stories are deeply moving. I am going to alert people in my areas of research (historical studies of health and medicine; history and memory work; trauma studies; humanities and arts studies of bodies) to this collection. I am delighted that the stories/poems are collected in this way for reading; for teaching; for thinking; for course design and more.” Catherine Burns Associate Professor, Historical & Heritage Studies,
Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender, University of Pretoria  

“As a reader you can truly relate to these stories that are beautifully written and cover a wide range of topics, including forced removals, adultery, identity, and mental illness. The Life Righting Collective has done something extraordinary by helping ordinary people to heal from their personal stories through writing. This book is highly recommended!” – K Khobotlo, on Facebook

To buy the THIS IS HOW IT IS anthology contact Terry at

Dawn Garisch is part of the medical humanities movement and a founding member of the Life Righting Collective where she runs courses in memoir writing and poetry. She has had seven novels, a collection of poetry, short stories, a non-fiction work and a memoir published. She has had five plays and short film produced, and has written for television. Three of her novels have been published in the UK. Her poem Blood Delta won the DALRO prize in 2007; Trespass was short-listed for the Commonwealth prize in Africa in 2010; Miracle won the EU Sol Plaatjie Poetry Award in 2011; and What To Do About Ricky won the Short.Sharp.Story competition in 2013. Her novel Accident was long-listed for the Barry Ronge Sunday Times fiction award in 2018. Her seventh novel, Breaking Milk came out in 2019, and her next collection of poetry Disturbance (taking note) in 2020. She is also a practising medical doctor, lives in Cape Town and has two adult sons.

This month’s blog is curated by Jen Thorpe.

Jen Thorpe is a feminist writer. Her first novel, The Peculiars (2016), was long listed for the Etisalat Prize for Literature (2016) and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize (2017). Her second novel, The Fall, was published in July 2020. Thorpe has edited three collections of feminist essays – My First Time: Stories of Sex and Sexuality from Women Like You (2012); Feminism Is: South Africans Speak Their Truth (2018) and Living While Feminist (2020). Her writing has been published in Brittle Paper, Saraba Magazine, Jalada, and Litro. Find out more via Jen is also the host of the Living While Feminist Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, or wherever you get your podcasts.

3 thoughts on “SA Womxn Writers – Day 7: Life Writing in South Africa – Dawn Garisch

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