below the Radius of Arab American Writers logo with moon and stars in black and turquoise, turquoise text on white background with turquoise clouds reads: National Poetry Month: prompting us toward resistance & refusal, toward honesty & action with Rasha Abdulhadi

Prompting us toward resistance & refusal, toward honesty & action

Rasha Abdulhadi, 2024-04-05

I will be brief.

It is too late in this genocide to use more words when a few will do, or to withhold or delay all that we might offer each other from our hearts and hands. My heart breaks for how this world keeps us from each other, through labor or borders, by miles or money or bombs.

May any words you write or speak this month, to yourself or others, pull you closer to life—from rubble, from loneliness or desolation—and out of despair. Whatever you might say in your life, do not delay it. Do it now. Say it now.

Take 15 minutes or 30 minutes to try any of these. An hour if you really want to.

But no more than that in one sitting or per day.

May you find renewal, refreshment, good grounding in these practices.

offered in courage, with deep care, R. A.


Week one: Writing ourselves into the living archive

So many prompts are about content or form. I invite you to write about purpose, context, and curation this week. Be as specific as you dare. You have permission to be intimate, ambitious. See references below for texts you might write with or against.

Possible questions:

Where do you want your work to live?

Who do you want to be read by?

Who do you trust to help you mean what you mean even more and express it more like you want to?

What is trust’s minimum criteria?

Who do you want to nourish?

How would you like to be nourished by this work?

What higher standard would you imagine?

Why this content, why these forms?

What are you writing towards?

What fulcrum do your words lever against, and what do you seek to move by this effort?

What archives do you want your work to sing inside?

What would it mean to be published if there were no paper or websites?

References: (for even more, read through posts tagged here

Public source’s call to A Duty of Care to Palestinian Life from June 2023

Poetry Foundation letters:


AGAINST GENOCIDE: An Update on the Boycott and Holding Cultural Institutions Accountable

Open Letter to PEN America


Palestinian campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI):


Week two: Writing for ourselves and others

Write once for just you. What do you need to say most right now that you’re holding back, censoring, editing or softening. Or if softness is what you’re holding back, let yourself melt as much as you are able.

Write a second time for people you know, the people you share your daily life with, the people you talk to, the people closest to you—and these may not all be the same people, even if they overlap. Tell them what is obvious to you, everything that is so plain inside your skin or in the world that you might assume it doesn’t need saying or that they already know or understand or have heard it and agree. Say it anyway, directly, say it openly, say it plainly or elaborately, say it exhaustively. You are allowed to take this risk.

Write a third time into the world beyond who and what you know. Grow “what you know” and consider that your idea of limits on action, reach, impact might be bigger than you know. Whether you embrace uncertainty or push toward something new, stretch a bit. See how wide you can get.

Action: Let words live in relationship. Let words take up physical space!

Choose at least one thing from any of these prompts and share it with someone, anyone. Could be as a poem or just in conversation. Could be in a meeting or at a protest or action. Could be in a letter or work email, over dinner or the phone. Read on a streetcorner, send voice notes of you reading poetry to friends, post a poem on a wall, try wheatpasting, print zines and hand them out to strangers or leave them on a table at a school/library. Testify at a city council meeting!

Palestine Poster Project

Palestinian Youth Movement Reading List

Link to Palestine zines to print or paste from:

Publishers for Palestine Zine Library

from the river to the sea: Collection of Palestine Solidarity Zines


Week three: Honoring anger and grief, peeling the layers with a freewrite

How is grief showing up today?

Where is anger taking up residence?

Who are the people you’re offering care to?

What are you willing to do?

Action: Practice grieving, by yourself or with others, online or in person. Plan a memorial ritual


Danya at Death Panel: Letters from Gaza, January 25, 2024


Week four: Live into the questions

Practice embracing uncertainty as possibility. Perhaps anxiety isn’t exactly excitement, but perhaps there are ways to embrace paradoxical sources of energy to move outwards/forwards/through rather than feeling trapped, pinned, detained by despair or desolation. As much as you feel able and willing, ask some of the questions you don’t know the answer to yet. Let possibility bloom in that silence rather than certain doom. What is needed to nurture such possible flowering, fruits, harvests, or even jailbreaks?

Action: Try a shared version of this, with one person or with a group.

Movement Memos podcast with Kelly Hayes: 15 minute guided writing exercise


Week five: The Truth, 7 ways

You can create new writing for this or use this method to revise existing work

1. Easy to understand: speak plainly what you most long to say right now.

2. Harder to understand: rewrite it as something baroque, obtuse, vague, hidden, oblique, opaque.

3. Start a fight: rewrite as a cruel truth, something rude, insulting, unfair, or hurtful.

4. Avoid a fight: rewrite it to be very kind, polite, or careful.

5. Comfort yourself: rewrite it as what you most need to hear/read, what you’re waiting for

6. Discomfort yourself: rewrite it as what you would do anything to avoid admitting

7. Revise it to help someone else, using only a remix of what you’ve written in the above versions.

Poems to Read:

Assata’s Affirmation

June Jordan Intifada Incantation

The Manifesto of Hope and Dignity, the Unity Intifada


A high-contrast black and white photo in which a genderqueer Palestinian person is leaning to the right and staring sidelong at the viewer against a dark background with graffiti. They are wearing black lipstick, large cat-eye glasses, a grey and black rippled scarf, and have long hair with a pale streak in front.

Rasha Abdulhadi. Photo courtesy of the author.

Rasha Abdulhadi is calling on you—yes you, even as you read this—to renew your commitment to refusing and resisting genocide everywhere you find it. May your commitment to Palestinian liberation deepen your commitment to your own. May your exhaustion deepen your resolve and make you immovable. May we all be drawn irresistibly closer to refusals that are as spectacular as the violence waged against our peoples.