Women Writers

Don’t Choke On Your Silence

Sister Outsider.pngAudre Lorde’s Sister Outsider has sat on my shelf unread for decades. Thankfully, I picked it up last night and found these much-needed words for these times:

“We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.

The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.

Catch Me At LitFest Pasadena!

LitFest

Come on out to LitFest Pasadena at the Pasadena Playhouse on Sat., May 19 at 5:30 PM. I’ll be talking about my experience as an Arab American feminist writer from LA. Join in the thought-provoking discussion and give me a hug. Much-needed medicine in these times.

Published by McSweeney’s: QUESTIONS I WOULD HAVE PREFERRED TO HAVE BEEN ASKED IN MY THIRTIES IN LIEU OF “WHY DON’T YOU WANT KIDS?”

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Check out my list, Questions I Would Have Preferred to Have Been Asked in My Thirties in Lieu of “Why Don’t You Want Kids?“, published by McSweeney’s. 

If the producers of Dancing with the Stars chose you as a competitor, who would you want as your partner and which dance style would you perform? Would you wear red or purple sequins? (more…)

Claims by Palestinian American Poet Lisa Suhair Majaj

Today on September 11th, as Anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim racism swells around the world, a dose of reality by my friend and colleague Lisa Suhair Majaj. Her poem “Claims,” published in Geographies of Light, is read by yours truly in the video below, which was filmed at the Markaz Evening of Middle Eastern Storytelling on September 9th. The written version follows.

Claims by Lisa Suhair Majaj

I am not soft, hennaed hands,
a seduction of coral lips;
not the enticement of jasmine musk
through a tent flap at night;
not a swirl of sequined hips,
a glint of eyes unveiled.
I am neither harem’s promise
nor desire’s fulfillment.

I am not a shapeless peasant
trailing children like flies;
not a second wife, concubine,
kitchen drudge, house slave;
not foul-smelling, moth-eaten, primitive,
tent -dweller, grass-eater, rag-wearer.
I am neither a victim
nor an anachronism.

I am not a camel jockey, sand nigger, terrorist,
oil-rich, bloodthirsty, fiendish;
not a pawn of politicians,
nor a fanatic seeking violent heaven.
I am neither the mirror of your hatred and fear,
nor the reflection of your pity and scorn.
I have learned the world’s histories,
and mine are among them.
My hands are open and empty:
the weapon you place in them is your own.

*
I am the woman remembering jasmine,
bougainvillea against chipped white stone.
I am the laboring farmwife
whose cracked hands claim this soil.
I am the writer whose blacked-out words
are birds’ wings, razored and shorn.
I am the last one who flees,
and the lost one returning;
I am the dream, and the stillness,
and the keen of mourning.

I am the wheat stock, and I am
the olive. I am plowed fields young
with music of crickets,
I am ancient earth struggling
to bear history’s fruit.
I am the shift of soil
where green thrusts through,
and I am the furrow
embracing the seed again.

I am many rivulets watering
a tree, and I am the tree.
I am opposite banks of a river,
and I am the bridge.
I am light shimmering
off water at night,
and I am the dark sheen
that swallows the moon whole.

*
I am neither the end of the world
nor the beginning.