Wednesday, September 26, 2007

For Ed Said

It's been four years and a day.
I like the way you wrote about bellydancers,
Tahia Carioca, who couldn't tell you how many men she'd married.
When you asked her,
She could only utter a shrill


And I love the way you wrote
about those who wrote badly about bellydancers,
Oriental feet and jingles
and finger cymbals.
Edward, I wanted to meet you, wanted to fete you,
to talk about lost houses and lost selves and bellydance
with you.
What else would we have talked about?


And now your FBI files float fancily up,
how many times did you write or fight
for Falasteen?
How many other "people like you" did you go meet?
What, and how much, did you eat?


When you answered the phone,
Did you hold the receiver to your lips
and say, now hear this,
did you leave traps out for your tapper,
and how much tape did it take?


Ah, ya Said, ya hazeen,
I can see you now,
one hand on a heaven-circuit phone,
a heavenly horn,
your mouth muttering down
for the heavens and into Jesus's thorns,
What I wrote? How I lived? The pianos I touched?
The New York I walked? The Palestine I loved?
The word-rocks I threw? The times they got through?


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hikers' Paradise

From the BBC:
There are rolling hills and fertile valleys, constantly changing through the seasons, as well as stark and dramatic desert landscapes.

It would be a hikers' paradise in fact, but for its recent history of two peoples engaged in a bitter, frequently deadly, struggle for the land.

However, a new book by the Ramallah-based lawyer and writer, Raja Shehadeh, encourages just such an approach.

In Palestinian Walks, Shehadeh describes six journeys in the West Bank hills and Jordan valley, reflecting his passion for walking and his life's work opposing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank.
So...who else wants to go for a walk in the West Bank today?

Link via Russell AKA Best Boyfriend Ever

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Make/Shift magazine giveaway

Make/Shift is a wonderful feminist magazine with new fiction, reviews, articles, and columns (including one by yours truly). Copies of issue 2 have just arrived in our mailbox, and the first person who writes back at randajarrar at g m a i l with "make/shift" in the subject heading will get a free copy.

UPDATE: the copy goes to zoss.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Me, Him, and Tawfiq el-Hakim

With Tawfiq al-Hakim, left, and my dad, right, in 1978.

I love this photo. As far as I know, this was taken in a "literary" cafe in Alexandria, Egypt. My dad liked to stalk writers. He refers to this photo as the moment the writing gift was passed to me. I like how I was a feminist even as an infant. I've got my back to the sometimes misogynist al-Hakim. Now, I have most of his plays and stories here on my shelf. He is one of the earliest Arab voices to explore alienation and education, and the consequent flight of the self.

Asia-Africa Lit Fest in Korea

From the Korea Times:
Prominent writers from Asia and Africa will flock to Korea for the Asia Africa Literature Festival to be held in Jeonju November. The committee for the Asia Africa Literature Festival confirmed the participation of more than 80 Asian and African leading writers who will be joined by over 150 Korean writers.

The multi-cultural event aims to create a platform for open discussion on literature of the Third World. For this reason, participating writers are those who concentrated on works that were not centered on Europe and did not insist on one culture.

Among the renowned writers from Asia are Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Egyptian writer Salwa Bakr and Indian writer Ruskin Bond. The festival will also see African writers poet Barolong Seboni from Botswana, writer Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor from Kenya and poet Akeem Lasisi from Nigeria.
Wish I could go.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Call for Submissions

From Pauline Kaldas and Khaled Mattawa, editors of Dinarzad's Children:
The University of Arkansas Press has asked us to put together a second edition of Dinarzad's Children. We are planning on adding work by new authors and so we would like to take this opportunity to ask you to submit your short stories. We are looking for short stories (not novel excerpts or creative nonfiction). We would prefer stories that have not been previously published or those to which you own the copyright. The deadline for submissions is December 1. Please send your stories to both Pauline and Khaled ( and Put "submission to Dinarzad" in the subject heading.

Beginnings and Ends (and Middles too)

Tonight I have my first workshop of my last year. I'm looking forward to it, though I know my skin about my stories isn't as thick as it is about my novel. When you revise something for years, you just get really tough about it, and you can objectively judge if someone else's comments are helpful. With a new story, everything is up in the air, and I feel very sensitive about it, like if someone says the wrong thing I'll give up on it completely.

Meanwhile, the world continues to amaze me. Sometimes I think I should blog about every single thing that pisses me off, but lately I have had no energy to perseverate on the universe's woes. What difference will it make if I do?

Happy Ramadan to all you fasters out there! I'm proudly not fasting this year. Every year I feel guilty about not doing it, but this year, I'm happy not to, and happy for everyone else who is.

I'm only 40 miles away from a huge Arab American community, yet I feel completely isolated. My trip to Egypt this summer was also a nice little slap in the autheticity face. Every year, I think, I'm a little older, I need to get over my ethnic confusion. Oh, but it keeps getting thicker and thicker and thicker...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Yay! It's Here!

Copies of the novel I translated from the Arabic, Hassan Daoud's THE YEAR OF THE REVOLUTIONARY NEW BREAD-MAKING MACHINE, have arrived from London.

You can order it from Amazon UK, or have your BookSense bookstore order it for you.

something that unequivocally unites all Palestinians?


Check out this awesome post on the Prince of Poets phenomenon.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Magazine

The first issue of the a-rab is now out! Check it out.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"Prince of Poetry"

Tamim Barghouti, son of famous, beloved Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti and the amazing Egyptian novelist Radwa Ashour, is a participant in "Prince of Poetry," which seems to be an American Idol for Arab poets. Check out his excellent poem, "In Jerusalem." Beautiful.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I'm a busy fool these days. I know lots of important things are happening in the world, but it's the little daily life dramas that are keeping me busy.

My kid's been complaining of headaches and trouble reading, so I took him in to see the optometrist today. The doctor came in and shook my left hand, and at closer look, his right hand was bandaged. Soon, I noticed that he had a cut above his left eye. Great, I thought, my kid's eyesight is resting on the opinion of some thug who got into a brawl over Labor Day weekend.

But he turned out to be a cool doc, and got along famously with my kid, once or twice saying he wanted to hire him to be his regular patient. He prescribed some good glasses. When I went up to the front and got the bill I almost shat myself. But hey, vision. It's an important thing for kids to have.

I teach my first class tomorrow. And I'm in the process of revising the novel for what I hope to be the last time before publication. I am a tired, tired girl. Still, I'm excited and I probably won't get any sleep tonight...