Participants

Angela Davis

Angela Davis
Angela Davis is an iconic American revolutionary and scholar. She emerged as a leading activist in the 1960s in the Communist Party USA, and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. During the past fifty years, she has continued to be at the cutting edge of radical thought, prison abolition and movement organizing. Her works include Are Prisons Obsolete?, Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement and The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogues.

Leila Abdelrazaq

Leila Abdelrazaq
Leila Abdelrazaq is a Palestinian author and artist born in Chicago and currently living in Detroit. Her debut graphic novel, Baddawi (Just World Books 2015) was shortlisted for the 2015 Palestine Book Awards and has been translated into three languages. She is also the author and Illustrator of The Opening (Tosh Fesh, 2017) as well as a number of zines and short comics. Her creative work primarily explores issues related to diaspora, refugees, history, memory, and borders. She is co-founder of Maamoul Press, a multi-disciplinary collective for the creation, curation, and dissemination of art by marginalized creators whose work lies at intersections of comics, print making, and book arts.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writes and speaks on Black politics, social movements, and racial inequality in the United States. She is the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, which won the Lannan Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book in 2016. She is also the editor of How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, which won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ nonfiction in 2018. Her third book, Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, is forthcoming from University of North Carolina Press

Remi Kanazi

Remi Kanazi
Remi Kanazi is a poet, writer, and organizer based in New York City. He is the author of the new released collection of poetry Before the Next Bomb Drops: Rising Up from Brooklyn to Palestine. He is also the author of Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine (RoR Publishing, 2011) and the editor of Poets For Palestine (Al Jisser Group, 2008). His political commentary has been featured by news outlets throughout the world including the New York Times, Salon, Al Jazeera English, and BBC Radio. He has appeared in the Palestine Festival of Literature as well as Poetry International. He is a Lannan Residency Fellow and is on the advisory committee for the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. He has taught poetry workshops from Oklahoma to the West Bank, given talks from New York City to London, and has performed at hundreds of venues, from New Orleans to Amman.

Ramzy Baroud

Ramzy Baroud
Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a US-Palestinian journalist, media consultant, an author, internationally-syndicated columnist and Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is a former Managing Editor of the London-based Middle East Eye and former Deputy Managing Editor of Al Jazeera online. Baroud taught mass communication at Australia’s Curtin University of Technology, Malaysia Campus. He is the author of four books and a contributor to many others. These include “The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story”, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” and “The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle”. His books have been translated to several languages including French, Turkish, Arabic, Korean, and Malayalam. Baroud has a Doctorate of Philosophy in Palestine Studies from the European Centre for Palestinian Studies at the University of Exeter (2015). He was also a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara between 2016 and 2017. His forthcoming book These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons recounts the stories of Palestinian imprisonment and resistance, as told by Palestinian prisoners themselves.

Huzama Habayeb

Huzama Habayeb
Huzama Habayeb is a Palestinian novelist, columnist, translator, poet and winner of multiple awards, including the Mahmoud Seif Eddin ِAl-Erani Award for Short Stories,the Jerusalem Festival of Youth Innovation Award in Short Stories, and the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. Her novels include The Origin of Love, Before the Queen Falls Asleep, and Velvet, and her short story collections include Sweeter Night, The Man Who Recurs, and A Form of Absence.

Ibrahim Nasrallah

Ibrahim Nasrallah
Ibrahim Nasrallah was born in 1954 to Palestinian parents who were uprooted from their land in 1948. He spent his childhood and youth in the Alwehdat Palestinian refugee camp in Amman, Jordan and began his working life as a teacher in Saudi Arabia. After returning to Amman, he worked as a journalist and for the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation. He has been a full-time writer since 2006, publishing 14 poetry collections and 16 novels, including his epic series of 8 novels covering 250 years of modern Palestinian history. Four of his novels and a volume of poetry have been translated into English, including his novel Time of White Horses which was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2009 and for the 2014 London-based Middle East Monitor Prize for the Best Novel about Palestine. Lanterns of the King of Galilee was also longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2013. Three of his novels have been translated into Italian, one into Danish and one into Turkish. He is also an artist and photographer and has had four solo exhibitions of his photography. He has won eight literary prizes, among them the prestigious Sultan Owais Literary Award for Poetry in 1997. His novel Prairies of Fever was listed by The Guardian newspaper in the top 10 most important novels written about the Arab world. In 2012, he won the inaugural Jerusalem Award for Culture and Creativity for his literary work. His 2015 novel The Spirits of Kilimanjaro won the Katara Prize for the Arabic Novel. He was awarded the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction for his novel The Second War of the Dog

Ibtisam Barakat

Ibtisam Barakat
Ibtisam Barakat is an award winning Palestinian-American author, poet, translator, artist and educator. She was born in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, and grew up in Ramallah, Palestine. Her books include Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine, Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood, The Letter Ta' Escapes, and A Present for the Letter Hamza

Shadia Mansour

Shadia Mansour
Shadia Mansour is a British Palestinian singer and hip hop artist, often referred to as "the first lady of Arabic hip hop". She sings and raps on Palestine and transnational solidarity with the global South in Arabic and English. She has collaborated with artists like Anira Tijoux, DAM, Lowkey, M-1 of Dead Prez, Narcy and Omar Offendum.

Ibtisam Azem

Ibtisam Azem
Ibtisam Azem is a Palestinian short story writer, novelist, and journalist, based in New York. She was born and raised in Taybeh, near Jaffa, the city from which her mother and maternal grandparents were internally displaced in 1948. She is a senior correspondent for the Arabic daily al-Araby al-Jadeed. She is co-editor at Jadaliyya e-zine. Ibtisam Azem has published two novels in Arabic: Sariq al-Nawm (The Sleep Thief, 2011) and Sifr al-Ikhtifaa (The Book of Disappearance, 2014), both by Dar al-Jamal (Beirut, Lebanon). The Book of Disappearance, translated by Sinan Antoon, is forthcoming from Syracuse University Press in June 2019. Some of her writings have been translated and published in French, German, English and Hebrew appeared in several anthologies and journals. She is working on her third novel and pursuing an MA in Social Work from NYU's Silver school.

Nick Estes

Nick Estes
Nick Estes is a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He is an Assistant Professor in the American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico. In 2014, he co-founded The Red Nation, an Indigenous resistance organization. For 2017-2018, Estes was the American Democracy Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. His research engages colonialism and global Indigenous histories, with a focus on decolonization, oral history, U.S. imperialism, environmental justice, anti-capitalism, and the Oceti Sakowin. Estes is a member of the Oak Lake Writers Society, a network of Indigenous writers committed to defend and advance Oceti Sakowin (Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota) sovereignty, cultures, and histories. Estes is the author of the book Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance (Verso, 2019), which places into historical context the Indigenous-led movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. In 2015, his reporting on bordertown violence and racism for Indian Country Today won a Third Place Prize for Excellence in Beat Reporting from the Native American Journalism Association. Estes’ journalism and writing is also featured in the Intercept, Jacobin, Indian Country Today, The Funambulist Magazine, and High Country News.

Susan Muaddi Darraj

Susan Muaddi Darraj
Susan Muaddi Darraj won the American Book Award for her novel-in-stories, A Curious Land. It also won an Arab American Book Award and the Grace Paley Prize, and it was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. Her previous short story collection, The Inheritance of Exile, was published in 2007 by University of Notre Dame Press. In January 2020, Capstone Books will launch her debut children’s chapter book series, Farah Rocks, about a smart, brave Palestinian American girl named Farah Hajjar. In 2018, she was named a 2018 Ford Fellow by USA Artists. Susan also is a two-time recipient of an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council and teaches in the graduate writing programs at Johns Hopkins University and Fairfield University. In 2019, she launched the viral #TweetYourThobe social media campaign to promote Palestinian culture. You can follow her on Twitter, SusanDarraj, or her website, www.SusanMuaddiDarraj.com.

Ryan "Little Eagle" Pierce

Ryan "Little Eagle" Pierce
Ryan "Little Eagle" PIerce is a member of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation and Founder and Artistic Director of The Eagle Project, a professional performing arts company that stages the works of Native American playwrights, educational outreach on Native American culture, and the production of the works of other American voices that are not frequently heard.

Randa Jarrar

Randa Jarrar
Randa Jarrar is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, and translator who has been awarded the Million Writers Award, the Avery Hopwood and Jule Hopwood Award, the Arab American Book Award, and the Geoffrey James Gosling Prize. Her translations from Arabic have appeared in Words Without Borders: The World Through the Eyes of Writers. She is the author of A Map of Home, which has been published in half a dozen languages, and was named one of the best novels of 2008 by the Barnes and Noble Review. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Five Chapters, Guernica, The Oxford American, The New York Times Magazine, The Utne Reader, Salon.com, The Rumpus, and others. She has received fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Hedgebrook, Caravansarai, and Eastern Frontier, and she was chosen to take part in Beirut39, which celebrates the 39 most gifted writers of Arab origin under the age of 40.

Mahmoud Shukair

Mahmoud Shukair
Mahmoud Shukair is an award winning Palestinian writer born in Jabal al-Mukabbar, Jerusalem, in 1941. He writes short stories and novels for adults and teenagers. He is the author of forty-five books, six television series, and four plays. His stories have been translated into several languages, including English, French, German, Chinese, Mongolian and Czech. He has occupied leadership positions within the Jordanian Writers' Union and the Union of Palestinian Writers and Journalists. In 2011, he was awarded the Mahmoud Darwish Prize for Freedom of Expression.

Marguerite Dabaie

Marguerite Dabaie
Marguerite Dabaie, author of the graphic novel The Hookah Girl and Other True Stories (Rosarium 2018) draws autobio, socio-political, and historical-fictional comics with a decorative flair. She has also contributed to a number of anthologies and is currently working on a graphic novel about the 7th-century Silk Road. Marguerite’s illustrations have been published by The Nib, Abrams, and Penguin, among others. She also regularly contributes to the Electronic Intifada, the Journal of Palestine Studies, and Al-Shabaka.

Hala Alyan

Hala Alyan
Hala Alyan is a Palestinian American writer and clinical psychologist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Guernica and elsewhere. Her debut novel, SALT HOUSES, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017, and was the winner of the Arab American Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her latest poetry collection, THE TWENTY-NINTH YEAR, was recently published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She lives in Brooklyn.

Mahmoud Muna

Mahmoud Muna
Mahmoud Muna was born in Jerusalem and attended school in its refugee camp (Shu’fat) where his dad taught three consecutive generations. Before finishing his studies at Al-Quds University, he was forced to re-located to the UK where he finished his first and second degree in London. He is a computer science graduate, trained communicator, and currently known to many as the bookseller of Jerusalem. He runs his family’s two bookshops, The famous Educational Bookshop, and the prestigious Bookshop at the American Colony Hotel. He is active in many cultural initiatives including the Kalimat Literature Festival. He is also a regular contributor to the media on culture and politics. His interests lie somewhere between culture and identity, behaviors and language, and when Mahmoud is not reading, he is writing for local and international cultural magazines and newspapers.

Aja Monet

Aja Monet
Aja Monet is a Caribbean American poet, performer, and educator. Her poems are wise, lyrical, and courageous. Aja Monet was awarded the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title and has been internationally recognized for combining her spellbound voice and vivid poetic imagery on stage. In 2015, she was invited by the Florida based anti-racist activist organization, Dream Defenders, to be part of a movement delegation to Palestine, and she has continued to work in collaboration with cultural workers and organizers to demonstrate radical solidarity. In 2018, Aja Monet’s first full collection of poetry, My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. She read the title poem of her collection at the national Women’s March on Washington DC in 2017 to commemorate women of the Diaspora. Aja has independently published several chapbooks including Inner-City Chants & Cyborg Cyphers (2014) and The Black Unicorn Sings (2010). In 2012, she collaborated with poet/musician Saul Williams on the book Chorus: A literary Mixtape, an anthem of a new generation of poets. Aja Monet currently lives in Little Haiti, Miami where she is co-founder of Smoke Signals Studio, a community collective dedicated to music, art, culture, and community organizing. Inspired by poet June Jordan’s revolutionary blueprint, Aja facilitates “Voices: Poetry for the People,” a poetry workshop for grassroots community organizers and leaders. The workshop created the first annual Maroon Poetry Festival in Liberty City, Miami to honor elder cultural workers for their commitment to radical truth-telling. She was a featured speaker at TEDWomen 2018 for her meaningful work in South Florida with Smoke Signals Studio.

Tariq Luthun

Tariq Luthun
Tariq Luthun is a Detroit-born and Dearborn-raised Palestinian strategist, community organizer, and Emmy Award-winning poet. He is earned his MFA for poetry from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Currently, Luthun serves as Editor of the Micro Department at The Offing magazine. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Vinyl Poetry, The Offing, Winter Tangerine Review, and Button Poetry, among other publications and anthologies. His first collection of poetry, “HOW THE WATER HOLDS ME,” was awarded the Editors’ Choice from Bull City Press and will be released by 2021.

Fady Joudah

Fady Joudah
Fady Joudah is a Palestinian-American poet and physician. He has published four collections of poems. These are The Earth in the Attic, Alight, Textu, a book-long sequence of short poems whose meter is based on cellphone character count; and, most recently, Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance. He has translated several collections of poetry from the Arabic and is the co-editor and co-founder of the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize. He was a winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2007 and has received a PEN award, a Banipal/Times Literary Supplement prize from the UK, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Michel Moushabeck

Michel Moushabeck
Michel S. Moushabeck is a writer, editor, publisher, and musician of Palestinian descent. He is the founder of Interlink Publishing, a 33-year-old, Massachusetts-based independent publishing house specializing in fiction-in-translation, history and current affairs, cultural guides, illustrated children’s books, and award-winning international cookbooks. He is the author of several books including, Kilimanjaro: A Photographic Journey to the Roof of Africa. Most recently, he co-edited the winter issue of the Massachusetts Review focusing on Mediterranean literature and contributed a piece to Being Palestinian: Personal Reflections on Palestinian Identity in the Diaspora (Edinburgh University Press). He is the recipient of NYU’s Founder’s Day Award for outstanding scholarship (1981), the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Alex Odeh Award (2010) and The Palestinian Heritage Foundation Achievement Award (2011). He serves on the board of directors of Media Education Foundation and on the board of trustees of The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), an annual literary prize administered by the UK’s Booker Prize Foundation. He is also a founding member and director of the Boston-based Layaali Arabic Music Ensemble. He has performed at concert halls worldwide and plays percussion on the music soundtrack of an award-winning BBC documentary on Islam, which aired as part of the series The People's Century. His recording credits include two albums: Lost Songs of Palestine and Folk Songs and Dance Music from Turkey and the Arab World. He teaches percussion at Amherst College and lectures frequently on Arabic music and literature-in-translation. He lives in Leverett, Massachusetts.

Mai Masri

Mai Masri
Mai Masri is a Palestinian filmmaker who studied at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley. Her films have been screened worldwide winning over 90 international awards including the Trailblazer award at Mipdoc in Cannes, France. Her debut feature film, 3000 Nights (2015) had its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival and was screened internationally where it won over 28 awards. Known for her films that focus on women and children and for her human and poetic approach, Mai’s filmography includes: Children of Fire (1990), A Woman for Her Time (1995), Children of Shatila (1998), Frontiers of Dreams and Fears (2001), Beirut Diaries (2006), 33 Days (2007), 3000 Nights (2015). She also co-directed with her late husband Jean Chamoun: Under the Rubble (1983), Wild Flowers (1986), War Generation – Beirut (1988), Suspended Dreams (1992), and produced In the Shadows of the City (2000), Hostage of Time (1994), Women Beyond Borders (2004), and Lanterns of Memory (2009).

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha has lived the experiences of first-generation American, immigrant, and expatriate. Her heritage is Palestinian, Jordanian, and Syrian and she is fluent in Arabic and English, and has academic proficiency in French. She has lived in and traveled across the Arab world, and many of her poems are inspired by the experience of crossing cultural, geographic and political borders, borders between languages, between the present and the living past. Lena writes poetry, essays and translations. Her first book of poems, Water and Salt (Red Hen Press) won the 2018 Washington State Book Award for Poetry. She is the winner of the 2016 Two Sylvias Prize for her chapbook Arab in Newsland. Her essays have been published in the Seattle Times, Al-Ahram Weekly, and Kenyon Review Online. She translated the screenplay for the multi award-winning feature film When I Saw You, written and directed by Annemarie Jacir, and Lena translated I Am A Guest on This Earth by Iraqi poet Faiza Sultan, published by Dar Safi Press. ​ Lena's poems have been published in print and online journals including Magnolia, Blackbird, Barrow Street, the Taos Journal for International Poetry and Art, Diode, Floating Bridge Review, Mizna, Borderlands: Texas Review and Sukoon. She is a nominee for the Pushcart Prize and ​Best of the Net. Several of her poems have been anthologized: "Running Orders," published in Letters to Palestine: American Writers Respond to War and Occupation, by Verso Press, "Seafaring Nocturne," published in Gaza Unsilenced by Just World Books, "Altered States" published in Bettering American Poetry Volume 2 by Bettering Books, "Fragment," published in Making Mirrors: Writing/Righting by Refugees by Olive Branch Press, "Immigrant," published in Ink Knows No Borders by Triangle Square Press and "Elegy" published in The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 3: Halal If You Hear Me by Haymarket Books.

Greg Thomas

Greg Thomas
Greg Thomas is Associate Professor of English at Tufts University and curator of the traveling exhibit “George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine". He is the author of The Sexual Demon of Colonial Power: Pan-African Embodiment and Erotic Schemes of Empire (2007) and Hip-Hop Revolution in the Flesh: Power, Knowledge & Pleasure in Lil' Kim's Lyricism (2009). He is currently working on a book on George Jackson and the Black Power movement.

Ayah El-Fahmawi

Ayah El-Fahmawi
Ayah El-Fahmawi is a Palestinian American poet and performance artist originally from Tulkarem and Kofr Al-Labad. She was the 2018 second place recipient of the Ghassan Kanafani Resistance Arts Scholarship and her work appears in the anthology titled We Feel a Country In Our Bones. Her work explores diasporic identity and the importance of storytelling in resistance.

Samia Halaby

Samia Halaby
Samia Halaby was born in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1936. She is a visual artist, scholar and activist. Rounding out her sixth decade as a painter, she continues to explore abstraction and its relationship to reality. She has exhibited in galleries, museums and art fairs throughout the US, Europe, Asia and South America. Her work is housed in private and public collections around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum (New York and Abu Dhabi) and the Institut Du Monde Arabe (Paris). Halaby has authored and contributed to a number of books, notably: "Liberation Art of Palestine" (2001), "Drawing the Kafr Qasem Massacre" (2016), and "Growing Shapes: Aesthetic Insights of an Abstract Painter" (2018). She is the subject of two monographs and numerous reviews.

Eddie Glaude

Eddie Glaude
Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African-American Studies in the department of religion at Princeton University and the chairman of the Center for African-American Studies. He is the author of Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul (2016), In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America (2007) and Is it Nation Time? Contemporary Essays on Black Power and Black Nationalism (2001).

Nur Masalha

Nur Masalha
Professor Nur Masalha is a Palestinian writer, historian and academic. He is currently a member of the Centre for Palestine Studies, SOAS, University of London. He is editor of the Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies. His books include: Expulsion of the Palestinians (1992); A Land Without a People (1997); The Politics of Denial (2003); The Bible and Zionism (2007); The Palestine Nakba (2012); An Oral History of the Palestinian Nakba (2018) and Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History (2018)

Iasmin Omar Ata

Iasmin Omar Ata
Iasmin Omar Ata is a Middle Eastern & Muslim award-winning comics artist, game designer, and illustrator who creates art about coping with illness, understanding identity, dismantling oppressive structures, and Arab-Islamic futurism. Their recent graphic novel, Mis(h)adra, has resonated with readers and reviewers alike with its vivid and searingly honest account of epileptic lived experience. Iasmin has been reviewed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, The Electronic Intifada, Library Journal, NPR, and such; they’ve taught & spoken at the New York Public Library and Harvard University. They thrive on dedication, dreams, and hard work — and believe wholeheartedly in the healing power of art.

Nathalie Handal

Nathalie Handal
Nathalie Handal is from Bethlehem, Palestine, was raised in Latin America, France and the Middle East, and educated in Asia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Claire Messud writes: “A contemporary Orpheus, she hymns our most urgent and ineffable truths.” Her most recent book include Life in a Country Album (2019), the flash collection The Republics, winner of the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing, and the Arab American Book Award; the critically acclaimed Poet in Andalucía; and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award. Handal is the recipient of awards from The Lannan Foundation, Centro Andaluz de las Letras, Fondazione di Venezia, among others. She is a professor at Columbia University, and writes the column “The City and the Writer” for Words without Borders.

Ghassan Zaqtan

Ghassan Zaqtan
Ghassan Zaqtan is a Palestinian poet and novelist, based in Ramallah. He was born in Beit Jala, and has lived in Jordan, Beirut, Damascus, and Tunis. In recognition of his contributions to Arabic and Palestinian literature, Ghassan Zaqtan was awarded the National Medal of Honor. He was awarded the Mahmoud Darwish Excellence Award in 2016, alongside Elias Khoury and Alice Walker, and was shortlisted twice for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2014 and 2016. His book “Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me”, translated by Fady Joudah, was awarded the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2013. Zaqtan writes a weekly column in the Palestinian newspaper, Al-Ayyam, and sits on the executive board of the Mahmoud Darwish Foundation.

Rafeef Ziadah

Rafeef Ziadah
Rafeef Ziadah is a Palestinian spoken word artist, academic and human rights activist based in London

Malak Mattar

Malak Mattar
Malak Mattar, age 19, is an artist of startling originality from the Gaza Strip who paints powerfully expressionist faces, figures, and semi-abstract designs. She first started painting at age 13, during the 51-day Israeli military assault on Gaza in 2014. Forced to stay inside for her own safety, she felt a compelling need to release all of her negative energy—fear, anxiety, and sheer terror. She started painting with art supplies from a government school, basic watercolors on paper. This opened up a world of self-expression for her. In the first two years, Mattar produced over 200 paintings. Unable to leave Gaza due to restrictions of the Israeli occupation, Mattar showed her paintings to the world via social media, on Instagram and Facebook. On her fourteenth birthday, she began offering her paintings for sale in local exhibits. She also began selling and mailing paintings to buyers around the world. Within two years, she became financially independent. Mattar’s artwork quickly began to garner interest from galleries beyond Palestine; her first international exhibition was in Bristol, UK, in 2017. Since then, her artwork has been featured in individual and group exhibitions in Jerusalem, France, Spain, Costa Rica, India, and in the Art Under Siege exhibit held in the Rayburn House Office Building, US House of Representatives, Washington, DC. While developing her artistic talent, Malak Mattar has also excelled academically, achieving the highest grade point average in the Gaza Strip in 2017, her senior year of high school, and the second-highest grade point average in all of Palestine that same year. One of Mattar’s paintings features a woman with an ocean-blue face and a meditative expression, her profile emerging, like the dark side of the moon, from an orange planet. The whorls of her curly hair encircle the planet, with some curls breaking free to float infinitely in space. "It's my favorite painting. She is a woman who has no limits,” Mattar says. The motifs of her paintings range from visceral feelings to dream visions to abstract concepts—one painting is called “Fear,” another “Nightmare,” another “The Flutter of Hope”—to portraits of Ahed Tamimi, Frida Kahlo, and other well-known figures, to interpretive renditions of her grandmother’s house and the experiences of Syrian children in war. While Mattar acknowledges Pablo Picasso as one of her influences, there is no doubt that her artistic vision is her own and deeply internalized. Her art resists direct representation: “I do not draw what I see, but my vision, my thoughts," says Mattar. Malak Mattar now paints in acrylics on canvas, and lives in Istanbul, Turkey, where she is looking forward to attending Istanbul Aydin University on full scholarship in fall 2018.

Taghreed Najjar

Taghreed Najjar
Taghreed Najjar has been writing for children for over 40 years now. Her output includes picture books for ages 3-7 that have become classics, books for early readers 7-8, and inspiring novels for teens and young adults that address difficult subjects reflecting the realities of political and cultural conflicts in Palestine. A number of Taghreed Najjar's books have been translated into several languages, including English, French, Danish, Swedish, Italian, Turkish and Greek. Several of her books have won awards, including the Itisalat Book Award 2017 for her book "What happened to my Brother Ramez?" and the Kitabi Arab thought Award 2013 for her picture book "Grandma Nafeesa." Taghreed has been nominated for the prestigious Alma award for 2019

Vivien Sansour

Vivien Sansour
Vivien Sansour is an artist and conservationist who uses image, sketch, film, soil, seeds, and plants to enliven old cultural tales in contemporary presentations and to advocate for the protection of biodiversity as a cultural and political act. As the founder of Palestine Heirloom Seed Library and the Traveling Kitchen project, she works with farmers to promote seed conservation and crop diversity. She is codirector with Riad Bahour of the feature film El Bizreh Um El Fay, which was awarded best project at RamallahDoc 2015 and will be released in 2020. She has presented her work as an artist at the Jerusalem Fund Gallery, Washington, DC; SALT Art Center, Istanbul; and the 2019 Venice Biennale. Born Jerusalem; lives in Bethlehem, Palestine and Los Angeles, USA