RAWI Love-- In which I gush about the conference
This year's Radius of Arab American Writers conference was dazzling, inspiring, and nourishing on every level. Nestled in the heart of Dearborn, the Arab American National Museum provided the perfect venue. The panels were diverse, informative, and fun, covering everything from the halals and haraams of publishing, cyberspace, and the Arab American novel.
The readings were brilliant: Naomi Shihab Nye, Rabih Alameddine, DH Melhem, Fadhil Azzawi, Marian Haddad, Fady Joudah, Pauline Kaldas, and Deema Rashid, and many other poets shared the stage in the modern and gorgeous auditorium. Rola Nashef's short film, Detroit Unleaded, exceeded all my expectations, and my son is now officially in love with cinema. The theatrical performances by the wondrous Leila Buck and Natalie Handal, among others, were amazing. And the food was good, too.
All in all, an excellent, fabulous conference. I can't wait until 2009... and if you missed it this year, make sure you come next time. Being a writer is an isolated business; it's easy to slip into thinking that you are the only (Arab American) writer on earth. Conferences like RAWI provide a reality check and a spiritual, and creative, catharsis. At some point last night, after dancing for three hours with academics, poets, playwrights, and professors, I stepped out for some air and heard Egyptian pop blaring out of an SUV on a nearby street. I can only explain what I felt as a homecoming. What a weekend!