Hayan Charara, poet, translator, editor and teacher, just won a $25,000 creative writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Congratulations, Hayan, for this well-deserved award. You will put it to good use, since you have already produced an impressive body of work.
Read some of Hayan's poems linked in this old post here.
Hayan kindly sent me a copy of his excellent anthology of Arab-American poetry, Inclined to Speak, when it came out this spring. I was in chemo and while I read many poems, my mind was scattered and porous and retained nothing but an impression of Arab-American friends gathered together between the covers. This morning in the quiet hour before the children awoke, I picked up the book and read poems by Elmaz Abinader, Ziad Shlah, Eliot Khalil Wilson, Sharif Al-Musa; then the children got up and I promised myself to return, to read Deema Shehabi, Matthew Shenoda, Fady Joudah, Suheir Hammad, so many more.
From Ziad Shlah's Thirty-three Beads on a String:
I'll cut for you the last swath
of blue from the sky, sever my
hand if you'll let me
but for five minutes more
leave me to sleep without the
knowledge of war.
A qanoun weeps
near the funeral of music.
The grant will give Hayan time to write and access to more audiences. I hope it will also remind readers to buy and read Inclined to Speak, to hear the voices of Arab-American writers: multiplicitous, challenging, gorgeous, urgent, of this moment.