The workshop “Delicacies and Techniques, from Interview to compilation”

The writing of memories should be close to current of life

Ahmadreza Amiri Samani
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


According to the website of Iranian Oral history, a one-day and specialized workshop titled “Delicacies and Techniques, from Interview to Compilation” organized by the Education and Research Department of the Art Center of Isfahan Province was held in the House of Artists of Isfahan’s Art Center on Wednesday 5th of September 2018. It was attended by Morteza Sarhangi, the founder of the Office of Resistance Literature and Art and Sassan Nateq, writer.

In the first session took from 9 to 10:30 Am, Morteza Sarhangi reviewed the principles and details in productions of resistance literature. It was attended by a number of writers, interviewers and the scared defense narrators of Isfahan Province. In this session, Morteza Sarhangi pointed out that Isfahan has great potential talents in view of having three active divisions in the scared defense, calling on the activists in the area of resistance literature to write these memories through holding small and big workshops.

Sarhangi’s emphasis in the meeting was that the work should promote from theory to workshop phase. According to him, a soldier narrates the war memories and our responsibility is to turn the memories from the language of the soldier into an attractive and fluent literature with our skill.  

In the next step, Sarhangi brought up and described three general structures called “block” for recording of memories: pre-interview block, during-the-interview block and post-interview block. Regarding the pre-interview details, cases such as empathy with the interviewer, collection of information before the interview and its delicacies and techniques were explained.

Concerning the details and tiny skills during the interview, Sarhangi spoke about different types of interview and how we can emphasize with the interviewee. He also mentioned to the researchers about the mistakes which are made by the interviewers sometimes and cause boredom and fatigue.

The last part of the discussion was related to innovations in method of compiling an interview as well as the writer’s mistakes in compilation. Sarhangi emphasized very much on stylishness of the pen and the writer’s creativity in compiling memories. In this connection, he brought many examples, calling on the writers to write in a way that the written memories should be close the current of life. Sarhangi added, “The more the narration is closer to the objective life, the more readable it will be.”

The second session of the workshop was allocated to the questions and answers of the participants and instructors and continued until 12 PM.

An important subject brought up in the Q&A session was how the narrator's tone is involved and how the fictional elements in writing and narrating the work are used. Morteza Sarhangi mentioned necessary key details for using different tones in various conditions to the participants in the one-day workshop “Delicacies and Techniques, from Interview to Compilation”.

In the third session of the workshop which started at 2 PM, Sassan Nateq explained about the weaknesses and problems of producing and compiling oral history works especially in the area of resistance literature. The weakness of creativity, not using fictional and writing techniques such as suspension and characterization and spatialization, the lack of sympathy of the interviewer with the narrator, not being  familiar with the methods and techniques of research, the interviewee's negligence to the narrator's mental angles and his or her memoirs, the mere focus on the quantity and number of interviews instead of their quality, not considering the human values of the war, lack of studying historical and literary texts, the neglect of the ups and downs of memories that ultimately create a monotony, not hearing well, and not looking well at the interview, and not paying attention to mental states and the body language of the interviewee, lack of a policy and program for an interview and not causing to understand its topics for the narrator, lack of familiarity of the interviewer with the art of compilation and pictorial writing of the events and … were among the problems emphasized by Sassan Nateq.

The final session of the workshop had two parts. In the first part, the participants shared their experiences with Morteza Sarhangi and Sassan Nateq, hearing the viewpoints of the instructors about their works. In the second part, Sarhangi brought up the issue of compiling memories as the final chapter of the workshop. From his viewpoint, the most important task in this area is sorting the chapters, and classification. If the interviews and compilation are classified from the very beginning, the weak and strong points are discovered better and faster and later, this classification can be corrected according to ups and downs points. This is useful and fruitful for thinking about a good beginning or ending and creation of attraction in the work.

Another responsibility of an interviewer in promoting the value of his or her work in the area of oral history and memory-writing is to search for emotional and charming memories in this classification. This point was regarded by Morteza Sarhangi as "bright metals". A book should not be definitely started with the birth of the narrator and ends with his or her death or martyrdom. The compiler can consider a good start or ending for his or her book with the help of these bright metals and replace the chapters. Such creativities can make a work more charming and readable.

He further noted that the difference of narrative literature with a report is in such precisions and delicacies. The war memories express the finished price of the war for us, the price that is dormant in the untold hardships of the combatants during a battle, captivity and martyrdom, a price that is dormant in the emotional and ethical values of defense and war. If this value is retold for the people well, then nobody betrays and oppresses a country which has been persevered with so much hardship. This is the same difference that exists between the raw registration of war reports and their emotional and literary registration.

From the viewpoint of Sarhangi and Nateq, the workshop's instructors, the most important step in the development of writing and education of a writer in the area of memory-writing and oral history is the launching of workshops in the field of compiling memories, the workshops that are continuous and as a result of which a generation of fresh and technical writers are trained. Sassan Nateq also said in the workshop, "It's a long time that the war has terminated and we have reached to a cultural puberty during these years; one of the characters of cultural puberty period is that we should write the memories of the years of the imposed war free from any passion and excitement and with wisdom and domination over the elements of memory-writing. In this period, war literature does not require stereotypes, slogans and exaggeration. We must showcase the wealth of a well-fought nation artistically. The art about which we are speaking has two parts; the beautiful art which looks for better understanding and expression, and the practical or committed art that seeks to be effective. With this definition, the works of this period should have both aesthetical elements and effectiveness. But most importantly, we must not forget the audience; because the result of our work reaches to the reader and one of the measures for evaluating the work is the audience's satisfaction and identification. The recording of memories is one of the ways for combatting oblivion: because the durability of the events is as long as the human's life. Art and literature give the society this possibility to feel the sweetness of victory; thus, the event will be fresh and sweet forever. Memory is the asset of a soldier, but when it comes on the paper, it will become his asset, the asset of his comrades and the asset of a nation. One of the main characters of a nation which has reached to cultural puberty is that they do not hide their asset for which they have given hard indemnity.

The one-day and specialized workshop titled “Delicacies and Techniques, from Interview to Compilation” which had been held in the House of Artists of Isfahan’s Art Center came to an end at 17:30 PM on Wednesday 5th of September 2018.  



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