To be born a writer and an Arab-American in this lifetime creates an imperative for my work and despite an education that led me away from politically charged writing, my life, my family’s country and the political climate demanded I give voice that nuanced characters and moments that have no complication in the media.
My work has been inspired by the dislocation of my parents from Lebanon to the US, and has radiated outward to dislocations, occupations, and disenfranchisement of other people
What did the Fellowship or Laureate mean to you at the time you received it?
The fellowship provided me with time, space and travel. I applied the funds toward traveling to Lebanon to get interviews of war survivors. It assisted in my going to a residency at Montalvo, and helped release me from some obligations that then freed up my time.
What do you do now? Has your art evolved or changed?
The novel has such an important back story that the research has been extensive. It's ongoing. In the meantime, on October 1, 2014, I released my second book of poetry, some of which was inspired by the research in Lebanon.
What is one piece of advice you would give to an emerging artist?
Don't write for audience, write to tell your story in the language and voice that is honest and specific.
Briefly, how would you describe the state of the arts locally, as well as national and beyond?
vibrant, diverse, relevant, necessary and frustrating
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