RAWIFEST

A weekend celebrating spoken word, poetry, and oral traditions in SWANA (Southwest Asian & North African) literature, and featuring new work from Arab artists and writers.

All programming is free and open to the public, but to make this possible, we’re relying on those who have financial means to donate when they can. We ask that those who are able contribute a donation on a suggested sliding scale of $20-50 to support the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI). RAWI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and all donations to RAWI are tax deductible.


ABOUT THIS EVENT

In collaboration with The Boston Foundation, RAWI is excited to host RAWIFest – a weekend of free virtual programming celebrating Anglophone SWANA (Southwest Asian & North African) literature and performance art, featuring new work from poets, spoken word artists, and performance artists!

Rather than following RAWI’s previous “conference” format, and in the spirit of openness and accessibility, the entirety of RAWIFest’s programming is free and open to the general public. This is made possible due to the generous support of the Boston Foundation (LAB), Mizna, Kundiman, The Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and the Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies.

All events will be live-captioned.

Email rawifest@gmail.com with any questions about registration or the festival.


REGISTRATION INSTRUCTIONS

Registration for RAWIFest will happen in 2 stages:

  1. To gain access to all panels, performances, and readings, you must register in advance via the RAWIFest Eventbrite page. This will give you access to Zoom links for all the festival’s events, except workshops, which will have capped attendance. Registration is free and open to the public, but donations to RAWI (suggested sliding scale $20-50) will be collected via this registration page for those who are able and would like to help fund RAWI’s future initiatives and programming.
  2. Beginning June 1st, sign-ups to workshop offerings will be sent via email to registered attendees. Workshops offer a more personalized, interactive experience for RAWIFest participants: an opportunity to generate and share original writing via exercises and discussion led by an experienced instructor. These workshops, which are capped, will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. We will be emailing workshop registration links to all those registered on Tuesday 6/1/21. To receive a workshop sign-up email you must be registered for RAWIFest by 5/31/21. Our workshop offerings include (full program below):
  • FRI, JUNE 11
    • 9am EST: Food Workshop with Nour Kamel & Mariam Boctor.
      A food writing workshop that examines solidarities and politics around food and language.
    • 2pm EST: Prompts Workshop with Rawya El Chab
      Rawya El Chab invites participants to explore what constitutes a prompt, in order for them to build their own, and design the extent and the constraints that will set free their creativity.
  • SAT, JUNE 12
    • 3:30pm EST: Unarcheaology Workshop with Fargo Tbakhi
      Unarcheology is a queer, anticolonial orientation that asks us to examine how texts, objects, artifacts, bodies, and histories have been dug up and narrated in service of particular, oppressive ideologies. In this workshop, we will think through unarcheology’s parameters and possibilities; examine poems, performances, and other texts which are using this method; and use research-based exercises to vision possible unarcheologies ourselves.
  • SUN, JUNE 13
    • 9am EST: Drawing for Writers Workshop with Maamoul Press
      In this workshop, participants will be guided through methods for visualizing either an original or found piece of writing. Participants will be guided in creating their own 8-page mini zine.
    • 1:30pm EST: Body Watani w/ Leila Awadallah & Noelle Awadallah
      Body Watani: body-as-homeland movement practice. How do memories and sensations of home live inside our bodies? This workshop is for anyone who is interested in taking time to connect with, and express through their body. Manifesting as a guided ‘dance’* session, participants will spend time exploring different ideas revolving around our relationship to home/land, ancestors, structures and memories through guided movement prompts, time to free-write about experiences, and reflective collective discussions. No previous dance experience necessary.

PROGRAM

THU, JUNE 10

6PM EST
OPENING CEREMONY WITH KEYNOTE READER HAYAN CHARARA

Join us for RAWIFest’s opening ceremony, which will begin with a keynote reading from Hayan Charara.

7PM EST
QUEER VOICES READING + Q&A

Join us for RAWIFest’s opening event: a reading featuring Queer SWANA poets and writers Feras HilalMateo GenovevaCarissa HalstonBanah el Ghadbanah, and Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch. This event will end in a Q&A discussion amongst the artists.

8:30PM EST
RAWIFEST OPEN MIC/CYPHER

Join us for an open mic/cypher hosted by Tariq Luthun. All writers and performance artists are welcome to sign up for a 4-minute slot via Google forms (link forthcoming).


FRI, JUNE 11

 

9AM EST
FOOD WORKSHOP W/ NOUR KAMEL & MARIAM BOCTOR

A food writing workshop that examines solidarities and politics around food and language with Nour Kamel & Mariam Boctor.

10:30AM EST
I WANT SKY – A GATHERING W/ RAWI, AAWW & MIZNA IN MEMORY OF SARAH HEGAZI

1PM EST
KURDISH AMERICAN POETS IN CONVERSATION

Holly Mason and Tracy Fuad are two queer, Kurdish-American poets. They will read from their forthcoming collections and follow with a conversation, with a special interest in how our partial, hyphenated, and modified identities fit into the broader conversation about intersectionality, assimilation, diaspora, and language, especially as related to our artistic work as poets and writers.

2PM EST
PROMPTS WORKSHOP W/ RAWYA EL CHAB

Facing an empty page is more of a trigger for anxiety than creativity. The process of writing shouldn’t always have to be painful and draining, at least not in the generative phase. By limiting some of our choices and establishing our structure beforehand, we can provide the imagination with some instruments to play, while leaving ample space to surprise ourselves. In this hour and a half long workshop, Rawya El Chab invites a maximum of 30 participants to explore what constitutes a prompt, in order for them to build their own, and design the extent and the constraints that will set free their creativity.

3:30PM EST
EXPERIMENTAL SWANA & DIASPORIC WRITERS PANEL

Join us for a reading centered on experimental writing featuring poets and writers Tarik DobbsAndrea Abi-KaramMaya Salameh, and Emad El-Din Aysha. This event will bring together performers who bring a broad range of backgrounds into their writing, from work in science and technology, to work in visual arts. The event will end in a Q&A discussion on experimental and interdisciplinary modes of writing, moderated by Philip Metres. This event has generously been co-sponsored by the Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies.

6PM EST
DEBUTS PANEL W/ KUNDIMAN & CAVE CANEM

Join us for a panel on debuts from marginalized literary communities featuring Kundiman prize winners Janine Joseph and Adeeba Shahid Talukder, Cave Canem prize winners Julian Randall and Aurielle Marie, Etel Adnan prize winner Danielle Badra, and Walt Whitman prize winner Threa Almontaser! This event will include a reading from all poets, and will end in a Q&A  moderated by George Abraham on the debuts process, from writing to editing to submitting to publishing and beyond. This event has generously been co-sponsored by Kundiman.

7:30PM EST
FILM SCREENINGS

Join RAWIFest as we screen the works of poets and filmmakers Jessica Abughattas and Hind Shoufani as well as a sneak peek of the upcoming short film Tallahassee, directed by Darine Hotait, written by Hala Alyan.

Dinner Party (2020) dir. Jessica Abughattas | 4 minutes
At an interminable party of doppelgängers, a woman must contend with the burden of embodiment.

8:30PM EST
A HOST OF PEOPLE PRESENTS KILO BATRA: IN DEATH MORE RADIANT

A presentation of excerpts of Kilo Batra: In Death More Radiant. This new play, written by Mariam Bazeed and Kamelya Omayma Youssef and created in collaboration with theater ensemble A Host of People, engages with Egypt’s Prince of Poets Ahmed Shawqi’s 1927 play Death of Cleopatra. Our work explores the creation of that play with Shawqi and famed actress Fatma Rushdi who portrayed Cleopatra, the reconstruction of Cleopatra’s story, wrestling with history and reconstructions, as well as contemporary connections to Pan Arab identities, identities in regions of repeated conquest, the positionality of woman transnationally, queer identity in Arab culture, and questions of power. This piece weaves together our contemporary moment, Cairo in the 1920s, and the end of ancient Egypt to reckon with what remains, what repeats, what we are breaking free from, and finally, what we create instead. Kilo Batra: In Death More Radiant is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by the Arab American National Museum, and NPN.


SAT, JUNE 12

9AM EST
RAWIFEST POETRY READING

Join us for a RAWIFest featured poetry reading with Itiola JonesGhinwa JawhariLeila ChattiMaha AhmedSara Elkamel, and Nour Kamel

10:30AM EST
GATHERING CEDAR: AN ARAB/INDIGENOUS MULTIMEDIA PERFORMANCE AND DIALOGUE

Recognizing the importance of constellating Arab diaspora art in multiple ways, including through immigrant/refugee and pan-Asian/African lenses of experience, this collaborative multimedia performance and dialogue argues for a creative, critical, pedagogical, and publishing re-evaluative centering of Indigenous Arab realities, by placing in dialogue womanist/queer/trans Palestinian, Indigenous North African, and mixed-race Arab/Native American artists, activists/organizers, editors, and educators. Weaving visual, textual, and performative arts, an Indigenous re-orientation and dismantling of Orientalism is invoked and a dialogue more deeply decolonized.

Featuring Ahimsa Timoteo BodhránLisa Suhair MajajRasha AbdulhadiKatherine ToukhyMicaela Kaibni Raen, and Molly Murphy Adams.

1PM EST
A BOOK CELEBRATION W/ RANDA JARRAR & ZEYN JOUKHADAR

Join us to celebrate recent book releases from former RAWI executive director Randa Jarrar and Lambda Literary Award finalist Zeyn Joukhadar. Both authors will read from their books Love is an Ex-Country and The Thirty Names of Night followed by a discussion.

2PM EST
RAWIFEST GATHERING OF FILMMAKERS & POETS

After their Friday night film screenings, join us for a follow-up panel discussion on poetry and filmmaking featuring Jessica AbughattasHind ShoufaniHala Alyan, and Darine Hotait. This event will be moderated by Hazem Fahmy and Ryah Aqel.

3:30PM EST
UNARCHAELOGY WORKSHOP W/ FARGO TBAKHI

Unarcheology is a queer, anticolonial orientation that asks us to examine how texts, objects, artifacts, bodies, and histories have been dug up and narrated in service of particular, oppressive ideologies—what we might understand as a form of archeology. Informed by queer, anticolonial aesthetic practices like collage and autoethnography, unarcheology asks that we intentionally engage our poetics in service of putting back‚ or reburying, restoring complexity and dignity to those texts and subverting those oppressive ideologies. In this workshop, we will think through unarcheology’s parameters and possibilities; examine poems, performances, and other texts which are using this method; and use research-based exercises to vision possible unarcheologies ourselves.

6PM EST
THE RIDE

The Ride written and performed by Ramy El-Etreby, seeks to reconcile seemingly conflicting identities: Gay, Arab, and Muslim. After being outed in a highly public forum, Ramy’s world is turned upside down. As his personal relationships become strained, so does his faith in God. THE RIDE takes Ramy down a dark hole where he loses touch with the most precious parts of himself. Featuring multiple characters from Ramy’s life, including his Egyptian immigrant parents, his caring best friend, and his snarky “catterpist” (his cat/therapist), The Ride offers lessons learned on the bumpy road from self loathing to self love.

7:30PM EST
MIZNA HAFLA

A party! SWANA and Muslim creativity! A kind of loving and campy queer SWANA tiktok? Essentially, this is a two-hour party featuring a series of quick performances (both live and pre-recorded videos) with dance breaks DJ’d by the fab Yasmeenah, emceed by our loves Zeyn Joukhadar & Fargo Tbakhi. Join for a spirit of joyful play & unstructured togetherness.


SUN, JUNE 13

9AM EST
DRAWING FOR WRITERS WORKSHOP

In this workshop hosted by Maamoul Press, participants will be guided through methods for visualizing either an original or found piece of writing.

Participants will first be guided in creating their own 8-page mini zine, and then will track eight key moments in their selected piece of writing and create symbols or images that are associated with each of those moments. Participants can then use their 8-page mini zines to draw one image on each page of the zine. The result is a small, handmade visual zine that represents the story.

Participants are welcome to use their own writing, or they can select a found poem or short story. Suggested materials to have on hand: drawing materials, blank paper. This workshop will be led by Maamoul Press artists Soumya Dhulekar and Sana Masud.

10:30AM EST
PUBLISHING ROUNDTABLE

Join us for a roundtable discussion on publishing, featuring SWANA diasporic writers and editors Rasha AbdulhadiZeyn JoukhadarAhimsa Timoteo BodhránJood AlThukair, and Yasmin Belkhyr.

12:00PM EST
RAWIFEST POETRY READING

Join us for a RAWIFest featured poetry reading with Zein Sa’dedinYasmine AmeliDeema ShehabiShadab Zeest HashmiAliah Lavonne Tigh, and Hazem Fahmy.

1:30PM EST
BODY WATANI W/ LEILA AWADALLAH & NOELLE AWADALLAH

Body Watani: body-as-homeland movement practice. How do memories and sensations of home live inside our bodies? This workshop is for anyone who is interested in taking time to connect with, and express through their body. Manifesting as a guided ‘dance’* session, we will spend time exploring different ideas revolving around our relationship to home/land, ancestors, structures and memories through guided movement prompts, time to free-write about experiences, and reflective collective discussions. No previous dance experience necessary.

*This is not heavily a traditional dance class, but instead a more meditative, reflective session where we will use movement as a tool to connect to our embodied stories, intergenerational memories, ancestral lands, and rituals / practices.

3PM EST
CRITICISM ROUNDTABLE

Join us for a roundtable discussion on criticism and community, featuring SWANA diasporic writers Layla GousheyBetty ShamiehNourhan, and Mona Hassan.

6PM EST
THEY SOARED LIKE HISTORY ABOVE AN OPEN PAGE – NAOMI SHIHAB NYE CELEBRATION

Join us for a RAWIFest poetry reading in celebration of Naomi Shihab Nye and her massive legacy in Palestinian and Arab American Arts and Letters. Featured performers include Zeina AzzamKamelya YoussefSara Abou RashedLeila Chatti, and Jessica Abughattas, with moderators Summer Farah and George Abraham.

7:30PM EST
CLOSING CEREMONY WITH KEYNOTE READER ZAINA ALSOUS

Join us for RAWIFest’s closing ceremony, which will end with uplifting and thanking our community, as well as a keynote reading by Zaina Alsous.