Mizna+RAWIFest Performer List and Bios
Abdelrahman ElGendy is an Egyptian writer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was a six-year political prisoner in Egypt. ElGendy is a Dietrich fellow at the University of Pittsburgh's Nonfiction Writing MFA, a Heinz fellow at Pitt's Global Studies Center, a 2021 Logan Nonfiction fellow, a 2023 Tin House Workshop scholar, an awardee of the 2023 Katharine Bakeless Nason Award in Nonfiction by Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and a finalist for the 2021 Margolis Award for Social Justice Journalism. ElGendy's writing examines the politics of memory and erasure. It poses the question of what it means to inhabit a space hellbent on erasing you, and insist on being. He's currently writing his memoir, Writings on the Wall. ElGendy's writing appears in the Washington Post, New Lines Magazine, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP), Mada Masr, Raseef 22, and elsewhere.
Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán is a multimedia artist, activist/organizer, critic, and educator. An NEA and Tulsa Artist Fellow, he is the author of Archipiélagos; Antes y después del Bronx: Lenapehoking; and South Bronx Breathing Lessons; editor of Yellow Medicine Review's international queer Indigenous issue; and co-editor of Movement Research Performance Journal's Native dance/movement/performance issue. His art, videos, and writing appear in 24 nations, including Flux Factory's queer/trans Southwest Asian/North African exhibition, Mark for Redaction. He works with Indigenous, womanist, and queer/trans communities of color to create multimedia dance works. Co-founder of the world's first transgender film festival, he organized the world's first transgender Arab roundtable dialogue for Sinister Wisdom. A CantoMundo, Macondo, RAWI/Soul Mountain, VONA, and Lambda Literary fellow, his publications include Mizna; Rusted Radishes [Lebanon]; Gallimaufry [Morocco]; A Different Path; Inclined to Speak; a Doris Bittar installation catalogue; and El Ghourabaa: A Queer and Trans Arab and Arabophone Anthology [Canada].
Aiya Sakr is a Palestinian-American poet and artist. They are the author of Her Bones Catch the Sun (The Poet’s Haven, 2018). A Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared in Palette, Mizna, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She is a Winter 2023 Tin House Fellow and the founder of We the Imagined Poetry Workshop for Arab Women Poets. They have served as Poetry Editor for Sycamore Review, and as Poetry Coordinator for Unootha Magazine's Summer Writing Program. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Purdue University, where she currently teaches. She collects buttons, and is enthusiastic about birds.
Aliah Lavonne Tigh is an Iranian American author, facilitator, and teacher, and their work studies both infrastructures of power and ecological connection. The author of Weren’t We Natural Swimmers, a chapbook with Tram Editions, their poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day, Mizna, Guernica, The Texas Review, Matter Monthly, The Rupture, and others. Tigh has contributed work for a Gulf Coast Journal and Texas Contemporary ekphrastic collaboration and joined other writers for the Tin House Summer Workshop. Tigh lives and works in Houston, Texas.
Amir Rabiyah is the author of Prayers for My 17th Chromosome, which was a finalist for the Triangle Publishing Award in Trans and Gender-Variant Literature, and co-editor of Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices. Amir works as a librarian and bridges librarianship with disability justice, critical race theory and feminist of color practices–as well as queering librarianship to make it more inclusive to the wider community. Amir is passionate about poetry, cooking, vinyl records, nature, chosen family, and their furbabies.
ANDREA ABI-KARAM is a trans, arab-american punk poet-performer cyborg. They are the author of EXTRATRANSMISSION (Kelsey Street Press, 2019) and with Kay Gabriel, they co-edited We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics (Nightboat Books, 2020). Their second book, Villainy (Nightboat Books, Sept 2021) reimagines militant collectivity in the wake of the Ghost Ship Fire and the Muslim Ban. They are currently working on a poet's novel.
Andrea Shaker (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist whose creative work spans photography, moving image, experimental film, multi media installation and written & spoken word. As an Arab American, she explores the spaces between home & homeland and migration & diaspora. Through image and word her work addresses how these spaces and the movement of the body within and between these spaces, are remembered, embodied, and imagined. Her work, albeit oftentimes quiet, has an urgency by which she seeks to (re)construct and (re)imagine bayt in the face of erasures, fragmentations, and dispersals. She earned her BA in Government from Georgetown University and her MFA in photography from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a professor of art at the College of St. Benedict | St. John’s University and is currently a member of the Artist Collective at the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts.
Angie Mazakis is a Palestinian-American poet. Her first book of poetry, I Was Waiting to See What You Would Do First, was chosen by Billy Collins as a finalist for the 2020 Miller Williams Prize and was published by University of Arkansas Press. It was named by The Boston Globe as one of the Best Books of 2020. Her poems have appeared in The New Republic, Boston Review, The Iowa Review, Best New Poets, Mizna, and other journals, are forthcoming in the Palestinian Global Anglophone Poetry Anthology, and she has had an essay appear in The Atlantic. She has an MFA from George Mason University and a PhD from Ohio University.
Atiaf Alwazir is a Yemeni multilingual writer, performer, activist, storyteller and cofounder of the media advocacy group Support Yemen.
Aya Krisht is a Lebanese designer and printmaker currently based in Metro Detroit. She graduated from the American University of Beirut with a BFA in Graphic Design, where her thesis focused on design in comics. After moving to the U.S., she worked at the Arab American National Museum for nearly 7 years before leaving to pursue a freelance career. She is a co-founder of Maamoul Press, a multi-disciplinary small press and collective for the creation, curation, and dissemination of art at the intersection of comics, printmaking, and book arts.
Bayan Founas is a high school English teacher and teaching artist in Detroit schools who centers her teaching methods in culturally responsive and restorative justice pedagogies. Born in Hamtramck, Michigan to Algerian immigrants, she writes on themes of home, diaspora, belonging, and womanhood. She received her BA and MA from the University of Michigan and a Kresge Gilda Snowden award in Literary Arts. She published two poetry collections: Diary of a Daughter in Diaspora and HERE TO STAY: The Literary Mixtape (paired with a spoken word album). She is published in Brittle Paper and forthcoming in Koukash Review. Follow her journey @bayanthepoet and www.bayanfounas.com.
Bobuq Sayed is a queer Afghan writer, artist, performer, and 2022-23 Steinbeck fellow at San José State University. Their work has been published in The Drift, New Australian Fiction 2022, Gulf Coast, The Rumpus, Meanjin, and elsewhere. In 2022, they co-edited an anthology called Nothing to Hide: Voices of Trans and Gender Diverse Australia.
Danez Smith is the author of three collections including Homie and Don’t Call Us Dead. They have won the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry, the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and have been a finalist for the NAACP Image Award in Poetry, the National Book Critic Circle Award, and the National Book Award. Danez's poetry and prose has been featured in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, Best American Poetry and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective. Former co-host of the Webby nominated podcast VS (Versus), they are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, Princeton, United States Artists, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez has been featured as part of Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list and is the winner of a Pushcart Prize. They live in Minneapolis near their people.
Deema K Shehabi is the author of Thirteen Departures From the Moon and co-editor with Beau Beausoleil of Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here (PM Press), for which she received the Northern California Book Award's NCBR Recognition Award. She is also co-author of Diaspo/Renga with Marilyn Hacker and the winner of the Nazim Hikmet poetry competition in 2018. Deema’s work has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies including Literary Imagination, the Kenyon Review, Literary Hub, Poetry London, and Crab Orchard, to name a few. Her work has been translated into French, Farsi, and Arabic, and she has been nominated for the Pushcart prize several times.
Interdisciplinary artist, writer, social justice activist, educator, and curator Doris Bittar explores overlapping colonial heritages and identities within historical contexts as well as fictive ones. Largely through patterns, decorative motifs and text, Bittar views pattern as cultural DNA mutating in tandem with human exchanges and migration. How modes of decorum facilitate seemingly unnavigable textual discourse are explored in Bittar's current project, Colonial Colonnade. Colonial Colonnade's concretized and improvisational texts examine possibilities for storytelling and a conjuring of the future. Bittar graduated with a BFA from State University of New York and an MFA from the University of California San Diego. Her work has been widely reviewed. She participated in several international biennials winning second prize in Egypt at the Alexandria Biennial for Mediterranean Countries. Bittar's art is housed in public collections in the United States, Europe, and the Arab World.
Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch is a writer living in Tio’tia:ke (Montreal). Their work has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry 2018 anthology, The New Quarterly, Arc Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere. Their book, knot body, published by Metatron Press in 2020, was shortlisted for the QWF Concordia First Book Award, and their second book, The Good Arabs, published by Metonymy Press in 2021, was granted the honorary mention for poetry by the Arab American Book Awards and won the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal. Their translation of Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay’s La fille d’elle-même from the French is forthcoming Spring 2023. With co-editor Samia Marshy, they are editing El Ghourabaa, an anthology of queer and trans writing by Arab and Arabophone writers, forthcoming Spring 2024. They are also an acquisitions editor at Metonymy Press.
Elina Katrin, with a Syrian father & a Russian mother, is bicoastal, residing in-between Southern California & Northern Virginia, and is the author of the chapbook If My House Has a Voice (Newfound, 2023).
Eman Quotah’s debut novel, Bride of the Sea, won the Arab American Book Award for fiction in 2022. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, Guernica, Necessary Fiction, Witness, The Rumpus, Jellyfish Review, Kweli, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, ArabLit Quarterly, The Markaz Review and other publications. She lives with her family near Washington, D.C.
Fargo Nissim Tbakhi is a queer Palestinian performance artist, a Taurus, and a cool breeze. Find more at fargotbakhi.com.
Farnaz Fatemi, an Iranian American poet and writer, is a founding member of The Hive Poetry Collective, a member of Writers of Color – Santa Cruz County, and a former Lecturer in Writing at UCSC. In summers she teaches new transfer students in UCSC’s Transfer Edge program. Her book, Sister Tongue زبان خواهر, was published in September 2022. It won the 2021 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, selected by Tracy K. Smith, won an honorable mention from the Foreword Indies, and received a Starred Review from Publisher’s Weekly. Some of her poems and lyric essays appear in Poem-a-Day (Poets.org), Tab Journal, Pedestal Review, Nowruz Journal, Grist Journal and Tupelo Quarterly and the anthologies Essential Voices: Poetry of Iran and its Diaspora and Halal If You Hear Me. More at farnazfatemi.com
Firyal is a 23 year old Palestinian artist living between Jordan and California. She graduated from UCLA in 2022 with a BA in International Development and a minor in Labor Studies. She was the 2021-2022 Cartoons director for the Daily Bruin, the third-largest newspaper in Los Angeles. Since then, she produces freelance illustration commissions. She is currently applying to law school and developing her children’s book illustration portfolio.
George Abraham (they/هو) is a Palestinian American poet. Their debut poetry collection Birthright (Button Poetry, 2020) won the Arab American Book Award and was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. They are a recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, The Arab American National Museum, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, National Performance Network, and are currently executive editor of Mizna. They are currently co-editing a Palestinian global anglophone poetry anthology with Noor Hindi (Haymarket Books, 2024) and are a Litowitz MFA+MA candidate at Northwestern University.
Huner Emin is a stateless multimedia Kurdish artist. He grew up in south Kurdistan/northern Iraq and is now based in Bloomington, Indiana. He works on political and social subjects relating to his life, ecosystem, and identity as a Kurd. During the Arab Spring, he performed Geruk, which questioned governmental power and political dogma and led to his arrest twice between 2011-2013. Huner has never returned since leaving Iraq in 2013 due to political and social issues. His work since has continued to comment both on his lived experiences and broader concerns in the Middle East, including honor killing traditions in 2017’s Blood Washing and the Baath regime’s 1987-1989 genocide campaign against Kurdish communities in 2016’s 180,000 Seconds. His ongoing work Manufactured Democracy features the names of Iraqi civilian victims of wars from 2003-2017 written in purple ink in the shape of fingerprints, evoking the first Iraqi election after the invasion of 2003 called the Purple Fingers Election.
Hala Alyan is the author of the novel Salt Houses, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Arab American Book Award and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize, as well as the forthcoming novel The Arsonists’ City, and four award-winning collections of poetry, most recently The Twenty-Ninth Year. Her work has been published by the New Yorker, the Academy of American Poets, Lit Hub, The New York Times Book Review, and Guernica. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, where she works as a clinical psychologist.
Jenna Hamed is an artist based in Queens, New York with roots in metro-Detroit and Jerusalem, Palestine. She obtained a bachelors in Fashion and Fine Art at Eastern Michigan University, and a Master’s degree in Arts Politics at NYU Tisch. Jenna’s background in tactile-driven analog practices and critical examination of art production has influenced her current interests in documentation methods via image-making, poetics, archiving, and the book format. Her spiritual grounding informs her use of the element of surprise, values of repetition, tensions between mysticism and skepticism, and the Inescapable Gaze. You can find some of Jenna’s writings and images in small press publications such as Faint Line Press, Newtown Literary, Koukash Review, Parapraxis, Everybody Press, Sukoon Mag, and others. You cannot find most of Jenna’s work, as she produces publications, prints and writings in limited or unique editions, distributed when, where and to whom she feels like.
Joe Kadi lives and works, with gratitude and love of the land, in the ancestral and contemporary lands of the people of the Treaty 7 region of southern Alberta. A transgender/queer, disabled, SWANA man, his writing has appeared in numerous places, including Mizna. His book of short stories, The Great Loss of the Twentieth Century, was recently published. An educator for social justice, he teaches in the Gender and Sexuality Studies program, University of Calgary.
Kassandra Khalil is a visual artist, writer, and arts organizer. Her visual work is highly autobiographical, using simple line drawings to explore how gestures evoke personal and cultural memory. Using irregular 2D surfaces such as vellum paper or plant materials, the images activate negative space with texture or translucence as a “memory” space where viewers can remember/imagine/construct narratives. She began writing poetry and creative fiction because she couldn’t bother to fact check herself. Her works rotate themes of migration, romance, and memory to provoke intimate portrayals and unfinished thought. Khalil’s work was immensely influenced by the exposure to her mother's Haitian culture. She pulls visual inspiration from ancient Egyptian imagery and form, connecting her to her father's heritage. Beyond her artistic practice, Kassandra has led several programs and initiatives focused on the role of arts and social justice. She is the former co-director of ArtChangeUS, a national project dedicated to creatively and structurally reframing the conversations on the cultural assets of US demographic shift. She has led arts programming and continues to advise as an executive board member at Haiti Cultural Exchange, the only Haitian-led multidisciplinary arts organization in the US dedicated to amplifying Haitian culture. Born in Queens and raised in Tampa, Kassandra considers herself a returned New Yorker living in unceded Lenape and Canarsie land in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Key K. Bird (they/her) is a genderplural multiracial Arab writer. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, The Normal School, Mizna, and The Massachusetts Review, among others, and they have received awards and honors from The Writers Room of Boston, The Cincinnati Review, Willow Springs, and elsewhere.
Kusbarra Collective is a writing, research, and cooking/baking partnership between Mariam Boctor and Nour Kamel interested in food, our bodies, ecologies, the land, heritage and alternative knowledges based in Cairo, Egypt. Nour is a writer, editor, and baker from Egypt. Their chapbook Noon is part of the New-Generation African Poets series and her writing can be found in ANMLY, Rusted Radishes, World Literature Today, and Mizna, among others. Kamel writes about identity, language, queerness, gender, oppression, family, and food.
Leila Awadallah & Noelle Awadallah work between Mni Sota Makoce & Lebanon, teaching, researching, collaborating, & creating performance & film projects. Body Watani Dance project contemplates the resonance and complexities of homeland’s impact on the body through dance practice and performance, particularly for those whose notions of ‘home/land’ are charged. Developed and led by Palestinian American sister duo Leila and Noelle Awadallah, they work between Mni Sota Makoce and Lebanon, teaching, researching, collaborating, and creating performance and film projects. With focus on Mediterranean realities, ancestries and politics, their recent piece TERRANEA (2022-2023) was performed at Red Eye Theater, Candybox Festival (MN), Arab American National Museum (MI) Links Hall (IL), Hammana Artist House, and Almadina Theater (LB) supported by National Performance Network, Minnesota State Arts Board and Goethe. They were commissioned by Alternative Motion Project to create a piece (2022) and have offered workshops for professional dancers and non-trained movers alike at Walker Art, TU Dance, University of Minnesota, Columbia College, ARENA, Threads, RAWIFest, MOVE Conference, Shawngram Institute and Links Hall.
Leila Chatti is a Tunisian-American poet and author of Deluge (Copper Canyon Press, 2020), winner of the 2021 Levis Reading Prize, the 2021 Luschei Prize for African Poetry, and longlisted for the 2021 PEN Open Book Award, and four chapbooks. Her honors include multiple Pushcart Prizes, grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and Cleveland State University, where she was the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Publishing and Writing. Her poems appear in The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The Atlantic, POETRY, and elsewhere. She is a Provost Fellow at the University of Cincinnati and teaches in Pacific University’s M.F.A. program.
Leila Mansouri’s creative work focuses on the fragmentary margins of the Iranian-American and SWANA-American diasporas. Her fiction has been published in The Offing, Rowayat, and Santa Monica Review, among others, and her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The Believer, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Nowruz, and elsewhere. She holds an M.F.A. from UC Irvine, and her creative work has been longlisted by Best American Short Stories, nominated for “Best of the Net,” and anthologized in Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers. She also holds a PhD in American literature and has published scholarship on race and representation in the early United States. She teaches American literature and creative writing at Scripps College.
Mahru Elahi is a VONA alum, a Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence and a finalist for the 2023 Allegra Johnson Prize. Mahru’s poetry and nonfiction prose has appeared in newspapers, journals and magazines, as well as the anthology Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora (University of Arkansas). Mahru is a comic book and ‘zine creator. She interned for Milestone Comics, a groundbreaking Black-owned studio, and published a graphic novel, The Thorn Garden (EROS Comix). Mahru continues to self-publish and has several ‘zine pages reprinted in Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds: The Teachers of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose (City Lights Foundation). Mahru is a K-12 educator, foster mom, and queer daughter of an Iranian immigrant and a California girl. An MFA student at Antioch University in Los Angeles, Mahru lives in Oakland, CA with her son.
Malvika Jolly is a poet and literary translator based in New York City. Her writing explores postcolonial poetics, magical realism, imperialism, hybridity, women’s narratives, folklore and mythology, and transnational solidarity movements. She and her writing have been featured in Mizna, The Rumpus, Salt Hill Journal, The Best Small Fictions Anthology 2023, and in programs for the Brooklyn Rail, Method Bandra, and The New York Foundation for the Arts. Deeply passionate about supporting grassroots arts and cultural production, she serves as the project coordinator for multicultural arts organization Tamaas | تماس, and as a senior editor for Poetry Northwest, where she directs poetry workshops and educational programming, after The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop, to transform racial equity in literary publishing. She has been the recipient of support from Brooklyn Poets, City Lore, Dara Shikoh Literary Festival, Davis Projects for Peace, Threewalls, and Radius of Arab American Writers. A Watering Hole Fellow, she was a finalist for the 2023 Margins Fellowship, the 2022–23 Emerge–Surface–Be Fellowship, and BOMB magazine’s 2022 Poetry Contest, judged by Solmaz Sharif. She curates The New Third World, a traveling poetry reading series inspired by the Non-Aligned Movement.
Marguerite Dabaie (they/them), author of the graphic novel The Hookah Girl and Other True Stories (Rosarium 2018) and the serialized online comic Legends in the Heights (GoComics 2022-present), draws autobio, socio-political, and historical-fictional comics with a decorative flair. They have also contributed to a number of anthologies and are currently, very slowly, working on a graphic novel about the 7th-century Silk Road. Marguerite is a freelance illustrator and has worked with such publications as the Nib, the Believer, Abrams, and Viking Penguin, among others. They are also an editor for the A.M. Qattan Foundation and Birzeit University, and are an editor, writer, and cultural consultant for the tabletop RPG Blackbirds. They once upon a time drew a serialized comic called Ali’s House (with Tom Hart), ran Pete’s Mini Zine Fest in Brooklyn, NY, and edited for the Morgan Library & Museum and the Journal of Palestine Studies.
Marim Abbas, a sophomore at Middle Tennessee State University, is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science and hopes to work in the realm of political activism to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities for a brighter future. Outside of her academic pursuits, Marim devotes her time to writing a memoir that captures her family's journey escaping Iraq and forging a new life in the States.
Micaela Kaibni Raen is a Palestinian American queer femme-dyke, mother, visual artist and multi-genre writer. She was raised in the Little Arabia community of California and attended Chapman University. A longtime community organizer and member of RAWI, she continues her activism for international human rights, especially that of Indigenous and displaced peoples, women, and LGBTIQ communities. Her current manuscript, Queer Tatreez, styles poems based on the intricate patterns of Palestinian Tatreez. Through analyzing complex mathematical matriarchal matrices inherent within patterns, she uses stitching sequences to envision visual design and poetry. Her work appears in Bint el Nas; Mizna; Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, and Thought; The Poetry of Arab Women; A Different Path: An Anthology of the Radius of Arab American Writers; El Ghourabaa: A Queer and Trans Arab and Arabophone Anthology; and an upcoming Palestinian global Anglophone poetry anthology.
Michelle Zamanian is a writer and editor. She edits and curates the column, We Are More at The Rumpus. She earned her MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she developed her unique point of view in writing towards pop culture and film. Her work has appeared in Copihue Poetry, Feels Blind Literary, Nowruz Journal, and elsewhere.
Nabra Nelson is a community organizer and theater creator from Egypt, Nubia, and California. As a playwright, director, dramaturg, consultant, administrator, and teaching artist, she works with theaters, universities, and community organizations across the nation to strengthen community and amplify under-heard voices. She is a founding company member of the Seattle-based MENA theater company, Dunya Productions, a founding company member of the Milwaukee-based womxn-of-color performance troupe Heard Space Arts Collective, leads the Nubian Foundation for Preserving a Cultural Heritage, and is the co-host of the Kunafa & Shay Theater Podcast (produced by HowlRound Theatre Commons). She is a professional DEI consultant with Avent Diversity Consulting and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Nancy Agabian is a writer, teacher and literary organizer who works in the intersections of queer, feminist, and Armenian identity. She is the author of The Fear of Large and Small Nations, a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, recently published by Nauset Press. Her previous books include Princess Freak, a collection of poetry and performance art texts, and Me as her again: True Stories of an Armenian Daughter, a memoir honored as a Lambda Literary Award finalist for LGBT Nonfiction and shortlisted for a William Saroyan International Prize. In 2021 she was awarded Lambda Literary Foundation’s Jeanne Cordova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction. A longtime teacher of creative writing, she has led workshops at universities and in community with women writers in Yerevan, SWANA writers online, first-generation writers in Queens, and queer folx in NYC. She currently serves on the board of the International Armenian Literary Alliance.
Noor Hindi (she/her/hers) is a Palestinian-American poet and reporter. Her debut collection of poems, Dear God. Dear Bones. Dear Yellow was published by Haymarket Books. She is currently editing a Palestinian global anglophone anthology with George Abraham (Haymarket Books, 2024). She is a 2021 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow.
Nour Arafat is a designer and writer based in Chicago, IL. Nour currently organizes with the Design Justice Network and aywa chicago.
Ojo Taiye is a Nigerian artist, eco-activist and writer who uses poetry as a tool to hide his frustration with society. Taiye’s most recent work is largely concerned with the effects of climate change, homelessness, migration, drought and famine, as well as a range of transversal issues arising from racism, black identity and mental health. Taiye worked on the 2021 Sustrans Black History Month Art Project, 2021-22 Scene Stirling COP26 Climate Commission, 2021/22 switch art project, 2022 Green Transitions Conference, Norway; 2022 – CHCI/MELLON Global Humanities Institute, South Africa; We Hear You—A Climate Archive, 2023.
P. Banu Yaşar is a Kurdish poet whose work can be found in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, HVTN, Odes to Our Undoing: Writers Reflecting on Crisis, and forthcoming work in an Anthology of Kurdish non-binary and women writers. They are a Brett Elizabeth Jenkins Poetry Prize Finalist, a Poetry Online Launch Prize Finalist, and a Best of the Net Nominee. In 2022, they founded the Kurdish Poets Collective with three other poets.
Pauline Kaldas is the author of The Measure of Distance (novel), Looking Both Ways (essays), The Time Between Places (stories), Letters from Cairo (memoir), Egyptian Compass (poetry), and the textbook, Writing the Multicultural Experience. She also co-edited Dinarzad’s Children: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Fiction and Beyond Memory: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Creative Nonfiction. She was awarded a fellowship in fiction from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and has been in residency at MacDowell, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow, and Green Olive Arts in Morocco. She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Hollins University. www.paulinekaldas.com
Persis Karim is a poet, essayist and professor of Comparative & World Literature at San Francisco State University where she also directs the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies. Her poetry has appeared in numerous national journals including Rowayat, Reed Magazine, Callaloo, Caesura, HeartLodge and The New York Times. She is the editor of three anthologies of Iranian diaspora literature: Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian-American Writers; Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora, and A World Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian Americans.
Priscilla Wathington is the author of the chapbook, Paper and Stick (Tram Editions). Her poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Michigan Quarterly Review, Salamander & elsewhere. She is a RAWI board member and an MFA candidate at Warren Wilson College.
Rawya El Chab is a storyteller based in New York City. Her artistic journey has been shaped by classical theater training and immersive experiences in experimental and contemporary art forms. Having come of age in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war and the Taef agreement, Rawya has keenly felt the absence of official and historical narratives surrounding that tumultuous period. At the heart of her artistic practice is storytelling, which she views as a vital tool for addressing this void. Through her work, Rawya endeavors to give voice to untold stories and illuminate the complexities and nuances of the events she recounts. Rawya has actively participated in significant post-war Lebanese productions in Beirut. Since her move to New York City, her first piece titled "The Meltdown" was produced by The Global Forms Festival. She also received a residency at Target Margin to develop "The Gambler," which ran at the Loading Dock as part of the Exponential Festival in June 2022. Currently, she is in the process of developing her first solo performance titled "Loula A," with the support of AFAC. "Loula A" is a techno-spiritual production that tells the powerful story of her cousin, Loula Abboud. Loula was a freedom fighter who tragically sacrificed her life in 1985 while fighting against the occupation of her village, Al-Qaroon, in the North of Lebanon. Through her compelling storytelling and exploration of the human experience, Rawya El Chab continues to make a profound impact in the realm of theater and performance. Her dedication to amplifying untold narratives and shedding light on historical events sets the stage for thought-provoking and transformative experiences for her audiences.
Saba Keramati is a Chinese-Iranian writer from California. She is a winner of the 92NY Discovery Prize, and has degrees in English and Creative Writing from University of Michigan and UC Davis. Her work appears in AGNI, Adroit Journal, The Margins, and other publications.
Sarah Aziza is a Palestinian American writer who splits her time between New York City and the Middle East. She has lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Jordan, South Africa, and the West Bank, in addition to the United States. Her journalism, poetry, essays, and experimental nonfiction have appeared in the New Yorker, the Baffler, Harper’s Magazine, the New York Times, the Atlantic, Lux Magazine, the Intercept, the Rumpus, NPR, the Washington Post, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and the Nation, among others. Previously a Fulbright fellow in Jordan, she is the recipient of numerous Pulitzer Center grants for Crisis Reporting, a 2022 resident at Tin House Writer’s Workshop, and a 2023 Margins Fellow at the Asian American Writers Workshop. Her first book, a hybrid work of memoir, lyricism, and oral history exploring the intertwined legacies of diaspora, colonialism, and the American dream, will be published by Catapult Books.
Sarah Cypher is a freelance book editor and author of The Skin and Its Girl (Ballantine, April 2023). She holds an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, where she was a Rona Jaffe Graduate Creative Writing Fellow in Fiction, and a BA from Carnegie Mellon University. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Lit Hub, Electric Literature, New Ohio Review, North American Review, Crab Orchard Review, and others, and she has been a resident at the Headlands Center for the Arts and Vermont Studio Center. She grew up in a Lebanese Christian family near Pittsburgh and lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife.
Tarik Dobbs (b.1997; Dearborn, MI) is a writer, an artist, and a Poetry Foundation Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow. Tarik’s poems appear in the Best New Poets and Best of the Net anthologies, as well as AGNI, Guernica, and Poetry Magazine, among others. Tarik helps run poetry.onl, and served as a guest editor at Mizna: Prose, Poetry, and Art Exploring Arab America as well as Zoeglossia: A Community for Poets with Disabilities. Tarik received an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Minnesota, and is currently an M.F.A. fellow in art, theory, practice at Northwestern University. Tarik’s debut poetry collections, Nazar Boy (spring 2024) and Dearbornistan (2026) are forthcoming from Haymarket Books.
Tracy Fuad is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and the recipient of a grant from the Berlin Senate Fund. Her second collection of poetry, PORTAL, won the Phoenix Emerging Poets Prize and will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2024. She lives in Berlin, where she teaches at the Berlin Writers’ Workshop.
Trish Salah is a transsexual dyke of Lebanese and Irish heritage. Salah currently lives and writes in Tkaronto, traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit River, the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe and Wendat peoples, and she is associate professor of Gender Studies at Queen’s University, in traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Territory. She is the author of Wanting in Arabic (Mawenzi House) which won a Lambda Literary Award, and of Lyric Sexology, Vol. 1 (Metonymy Press). She is editor of the Journal of Critical Race Inquiry, and co-editor of special issues of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, on cultural production, and of Arc Poetry Magazine, featuring poetry by trans, Two-Spirit and non-binary writers. This year she is honoured to serve as guest judge for the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize.
William Nour is a Palestinian American poet and playwright, born in Nazareth, raised in Haifa. He holds a Bachelors of English in secondary education and has been published in Mizna. He lives with his husband of 27 years in Minneapolis.
Yara Omer holds a BA degree in Journalism and Communication from Yarmouk University, Jordan, and a Masters’s degree in Deaf Education from the University of Minnesota, United States. She has been a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since 2008. She is fluent in Arabic, English, and American Sign Language; familiar with Jordanian Sign Language, and interested in American & Arabic Cued Speech. Yara writes in both Arabic and English and enjoys Astronomy and literature. She is published in Mizna, The Fourth River, the Gemini by the Minnesota Astronomical Society, Saint Paul Almanac, TSaunders Pubs, and MELSA (Metropolitan Library Service Agency). Yara participated as Community Editor with Saint Paul Almanac and an editor with the Cracked Walnut. Some of her poems were featured in Lina Belar’s community poetry booklets of Poems of Hope and Reassurance & Minnesota Voices - Work by Regional Poets (presented by the Wadena County Historical Society).
Yasmine Ameli is an Iranian American poet and essayist based in Massachusetts. She holds a BA in English from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Virginia Tech. She has received support from Poets and Writers, Reese’s Book Club, MASS MoCA, Monson Arts, Franconia Sculpture Park, the Edith Wharton House, the Straw Dog Writers Guild, and the Oak Spring Garden Foundation. Her work appears in Poetry, The Sun, Ploughshares, Narrative, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing through the Loft Literary Center, Grub Street, and Hugo House as well as works independently as a holistic writing coach. Find her at yasmineameli.com and on Instagram @yasmineameli.
Zaina Arafat is a Palestinian-American writer and the author of the novel, You Exist Too Much, which won a 2021 Lambda Literary Award and was named Roxane Gay's favorite book of 2020. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, VICE, BuzzFeed, Granta, Guernica, The Believer, Harper’s Bazaar and Virginia Quarterly Review. Zaina was awarded the Arab Women/Migrants from the Middle East fellowship at Jack Jones Literary Arts and named a Champion of Pride by The Advocate. She teaches creative writing at Barnard College and The School of The New York Times, and is currently at work on her second book.
Zeyn Joukhadar is the author of the novels The Thirty Names of Night, which won the Lambda Literary Award and the Stonewall Book Award, and The Map of Salt and Stars, which won the Middle East Book Award and was a Goodreads Choice Awards and Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize finalist. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Electric Literature, Salon, The Paris Review, [PANK], and elsewhere and has been included in anthologies such as Kink, Letters to a Writer of Color, This Arab Is Queer, and others. He has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Joukhadar guest edited Mizna's 2020 Queer + Trans Voices issue, serves on the RAWI board, and mentors emerging writers of color with the Periplus Collective.