After the success of Bad Form’s first We Want Your Words, we’re back with our second prompt. 

Every month, there will be a chosen theme for you to write on; it will be culturally relevant and hopefully, inspire more personable writing about topics Bad Form wants to shine a light on. Whether this is the first piece of writing you’ve chosen to submit or you’re a longstanding contributor to Bad Form, we want to hear what you have to say. We think short stories, literary essays and poems are the best form for We Want Your Words so on this occasion, we won’t be accepting book reviews.

Bad Form’s chosen theme for the second edition of We Want Your Words will be on INTERGENERATIONAL TRAUMA. Inspired by the format and stories within Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, we want you to get creative with the way you think about the inheritance of familial trauma. 

Whilst Homegoing tells the story of two half-sisters and their lineage through the centuries, it is also a book focused on how slavery has impacted these families not only through the transatlantic slave trade, but also in the modern day. Much of the narrative within Homegoing feeds into the concept of Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome, a term coined by Dr Joy Degruy in 2005 in her book of the same name. In general, the idea of trauma weaving through a family’s lineage is also known as Epigenetics or Transgenerational Trauma and in recent years, studies have uncovered just how our DNA can be altered as a result of inherited trauma. 

Having read Homegoing is not paramount to understanding this prompt (although we do have a great review by Sandy Taylor here) so don’t worry if you’ve not read it! We want you to get creative and think of the ways you can best express your thoughts on family, history and trauma. Do you agree with the notion of inherited trauma? Would you argue that there are other historical events that have had an impact on families today? Whatever your thoughts on the theme, We Want Your Words.

Some ideas could include but are not limited to:

  • Using your own familial situation as inspiration for a short story or poem

  • A feature essay on a particular historical event and its resounding effects of trauma on the people involved

  • A literary essay exploring similar books on intergenerational trauma

  • A feature on the “legacy” of past trauma in the present day: racism, classism, colourism

Some further guidance can be found in the selected prompts also:

Our Style Guide can be found here.

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The print and digital literary review by Black, Asian, and racialised community writers.