Panelist, Elmaz Abinader
Abinader has been an influential voice in American Literature for
almost two decades. Her work, from her memoir to her poetry to her performance
work, resonates with the complications of the history of
its relationship to other cultures and itself. Elmaz is a recent winner
of the GOLDIE Award
for Literature for 2002.
Abinader makes no secret of her concerns in her writing. She wants to bring the
story of Arab-Americans to the literature of inclusion in this country
and she uses every means she can master, from writing to acting. The doors
for writers of under represented cultures is a major concern.
Her first major work, Children of
the Roojme, A Family's Journey from Lebanon (Norton, 1991, University
of Wisconsin, 1997) was a result of a Post Doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities where she worked with
Nobelist Toni Morrison. Early in her career, she won an Academy of American
Poets Award and most recently, A Fulbright Senior Scholarship in Egypt.
In her collection, In the Country of My Dreams, Abinader brings together poetry
about internal and external geographies. This Collection has been awarded the
2000 Oakland PEN Josephine Miles Literary Award for Multi-cultural Poetry.
Many of these works have appeared in anthologies and journals and have
won several awards. In addition her poetry has been included in the
award winning anthology, The Poetry of Arab Women.
She has contributed articles to major collections and newspapers. Most
recently her work, Just Off Main Street appeared
in an Anthology Writers
on America released
by the State Department.
She discusses this project on NPR's Sunday
Other feature articles include, Profiles a
post-9-11 article in the Living Issue of Creative Non Fiction
and Pain in Familiar Faces, published in 2002 in New York NewsDay
Elmaz Abinader's Plays have
travelled the world. Country
of Origin, the storytelling performance Abinader has written and performed has won two Drammies,
Portland's Critic's Circle Awards for Theater. This compelling, three-act,
one-woman show, portrays the lives of three Arab-American women struggling
with cultural conflict and expectations. The original music for Country
of Origin was composed by Tony Khalife. Her new play, Under
the Ramadan Moon has had several touring dates with more upcoming. In this play, she explores the typical stereotypes associated
with Arabs and Arab-Americans, and give a new view to a stale perspective.
Her current work, When Silence is Frightening, offers three vignettes about Palestine.
Abinader's years as a creative writing teacher has prepped her for public
presentation and exciting and accessible performing. Throughout her career,
she has focused on the stimulation and growth of young writers-of-color,
particularly through her participation in the Hurston-Wright Writers'
Week West and The Voice of Our Nations Arts Foundation. With a novel and
a travel memoir in the works, Abinader's voice will resonate for a long
time to come. By working with The Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation she promotes a centralizing
of the voices and traditions of writers of color.