New Writers Awards 2018: Nadine Aisha Jassat
Nadine Aisha Jassat is a writer and poet whose work bridges connections between the arts and social justice. Her work has been published online and in print, including in 404 ink’s acclaimed Nasty Women, the Dangerous Women Project, and New Writing Scotland. Her pamphlet, Still, was launched at the Scottish Poetry Library in 2016, and her spoken-word piece, ‘Hopscotch,’ was made into a film-poem by award-winning filmmaker Roxana Vilk, and has been shown at festivals across the UK.
Nadine has performed solo spoken-word shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Just Festival, and the Audacious Women Festival, as well as performing at literary cabarets such as Flint & Pitch, and Sofar Sounds Edinburgh. She has appeared at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Aye Write, and Glasgow Women’s Library’s Festival of Women Writers, and was the debut writer in residence for YWCA Scotland - The Young Women's Movement. Nadine has worked extensively as a creative practitioner focusing on social justice issues, and in particular delivers workshops and projects with young people; using drama, creative writing, and storytelling to explore Racism, Islamophobia and Gender-Based Violence. In 2017, Nadine was named as one of thirty inspiring young women under thirty in Scotland.
I am 26, walking through quiet Edinburgh streets on my way to the supermarket. There’s a shopping list in my head, chanting aubergine – ginger – butter to make ghee – aubergine – ginger – butter to make ghee. Two children trail in front of me at the tail coats of fathers who walk further ahead in heavy laced boots. The wee boy turns, I smile, he screams. He screams, ‘You’re a bad woman!’
His sister hushes him away, apologetic. Tells me he didn’t mean it. I am panic: eyes to the child, to the pavement, to the wall, did anyone else hear? To the pavement, to the wall, did anyone else hear him? To the child, to the floor.
Returning home, conscious of my face in that child’s mind and the newspapers he has seen and the television he has watched and the words he has heard, I have a memory, briefly, of a university friend in consoling tones telling me I could ‘pass for white’.
No matter how gentle, no matter how serene, no matter how many good works I do or taxes I pay or lives I save I will always be, always be, to them a dangerous woman.
And what are they to me?
First published at The Dangerous Women Project, April 2016
"I am really thrilled to receive this award and have my work recognised, supported, and invested in by the Scottish Book Trust. It’s an incredible honour to be selected and I would encourage future applicants to apply, apply, apply!"