In 2022, RAWI launched the first round of a six-month mentorship program for emerging Arab/SWANA writers based in the United States as well as abroad, funded by community donations.
The main goal of the mentorship program is to foster connections among emerging SWANA writers, as well as to give them the opportunity to dialogue with an experienced SWANA writing mentor about navigating the publishing industry. Via monthly one-on-one meetings, mentors and fellows talk about publishing, building careers as writers, creating and fostering community with other writers, and other industry-related topics to mend gaps in networking and publishing knowledge caused by systemic discrimination against writers of color, including Arab and SWANA writers. Mentors and mentees are free to define their goals flexibly together. Some examples of topics that mentorships may cover might include: whether/how to choose an agent, write a cover letter, red flags in a first book contract, how to apply for residencies and fellowships, how to submit to literary magazines, or how to set up a good work-life-balance in the year following publication.
At the end of each round of the mentorship program, a virtual mentor-mentee reading is held; in addition, an event at the bi-annual RAWIfest festival will showcase the work of RAWI mentees over the previous two years.
A gentle reminder to applicants that this is not a creative workshop - based program. Conversations will be focused on publication-related questions rather than craft questions related to how to improve any creative works in progress. Fellows are kindly asked to refrain from asking mentors to read, evaluate or share feedback on your work, as this is outside of the intentions and commitments of RAWI’s mentorship program.
Currently, two fellows are chosen in each category, and mentorships are offered in fiction and poetry, although we hope to expand these offerings in the future. For their time and labor, mentors are offered a $500 honorarium.
For emerging writers in our community to whom we cannot offer mentorships at this time, we have an ongoing bi-monthly tea time event which serves as an open forum for connecting with other SWANA writers and discussing things like publishing questions, editorial concerns, and other communal issues. We also regularly host readings and panels, such as our recent event on getting an agent for prose writers. We are also working on developing a series of craft talks, across several genres, in the months to come. All of our events are free and open to the public, and will be virtual for the foreseeable future. Please follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign up for our newsletter for more updates.
(Photo credit: Shiyam Galyon, 2019.)
The inaugural mentors for the autumn/winter of 2022-23 are as follows:
Susan Muaddi Darraj (fiction)
Nathalie Handal (poetry)
Zeyn Joukhadar (fiction)
Laila Lalami (fiction)
Trish Salah (poetry)