Just So You Know: Essays of Experience is an anthology of sixteen essays, edited by Hanan Issa, Durre Shahwar and Özgur Uyanik to offer an open platform for LGBT, BAME, neurodivergent and disabled voices, but what is common throughout these distinct, personal essays is that they are thought-provoking and often complex pieces, written with nuance and clarity.
Some of the essays are structured as traditional essays centred on an argument, others are reflective or creative. Josh Weeks’s essay ‘Dear O’ takes the epistolary form as the author writes letters to OCD, to the obtrusive thoughts that he lives with and to the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy that he embarks in order to understand the disorder. A comparison of Welsh and Kenyan folklore, of fatal feminity, forms Kandace Siobhan Walker’s essay on narratives of abuse and how they are refracted in our culture and in the stories we tell. A desire to ride a bicycle drives Kate Cleaver’s compelling and uplifting essay on neurodivergence. Many of the essays reflect on the authors formative experiences, such as Ruqaya Izzidien whose essay recounts her experience as a Welsh-Iraqi school pupil, coming of age during the outbreak of the Iraq War, of micro-aggressions and alienation, and of the anti-war protest she led at her Welsh school. Other essays in the collection consider sexuality, bilingualism, immigration and multiculturalism, disability and sport, cultural disinheritance and self-othering. Above all, within this collection of essays each contemplating its own space, the multitudes and intersections between experiences can be found, and for those from majority communities, there is valuable insight with which to consider one’s identity.
Smart, bold and fresh – these are voices we need to hear
Just as gemstones are formed under great pressure, growing in value and beauty as a result, so this collection offers experience in all its sharp edges and striations, the polish or the rough cut.
Cath Beard, The Welsh Agenda
Just So You Know: Essays of Experience will open your eyes to the multiplicity of the human experience.
Jacob Powell, New Welsh Review