Past Events

We had a wonderfully successful event at the Asian American Writers Workshop. So much so that this partnering of Afghan & Iranian writers were welcomed at Fashion Institute of Technology. The event was packed and we had a lot of fun presenting.

Here is a review of the event on The Association of Iranian American Writers

Recent NY Nowruz event – A New Day: Readings by Afghan and Iranian American Writers – reviewed by Dena Afrasiabi.

aawwzz

Over eighty attendees braved the rain and squeezed into tight quarters for A New Day: Readings by Afghan and Iranian American Writers on Friday, March 12th at the Asian American Writers Workshop. The reading was held in honor of Nowruz and was co-hosted by Zohra Saed, co-director of the Association of Afghan American Writers and Manijeh Nasrabadi, co-director of the Association of Iranian American Writers.

Ken Chen, director of the Asian American Writers Workshop opened the reading by welcoming attendees and discussing future events. Ken said his goal as director has been to be as ambitious and inclusive as possible when defining the terms Asian and American.

Nasrabadi, who introduced the first reader, spoke about the importance of collapsing the borders between Iranian and Afghan Americans. She said collaboration between the two organizations has long been in the works, in large part because of all the new writing that has recently come out of both communities.

Saed explained the haft-seen for those who were not familiar with Nowruz traditions and spoke about the political implications of celebrating Nowruz and recognizing the broad range of Central and South Asian cultures that share the same traditions.

Five writers read in total. Aphrodite Desiree Navab, who kicked off the reading with an excerpt from her novel, Call Her Anar. Naheed Elyasi read from her story Living on Prayer which is included in the forthcoming Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature co-edited by Zohra Saed and Sahar Muradi. Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet read from her forthcoming novel Martyrdom Street, Sahar Muradi read several short memoir pieces and Dalia Sofer read from her novel Septembers of Shiraz.

The evening was also a fundraiser for the Committee to Protect Journalists and $160 was collected to support work in Iran and Afghanistan. A Q&A session followed the reading, during which the writers discussed some of the challenges of writing in diaspora and negotiating issues of gender and culture in their work. The large turnout at the reading is indicative of the wealth of public support and enthusiasm for the great fiction and nonfiction coming out of these two communities.

Friday, March 12, 2010, 7 PM

A New Day: Readings by Afghan and Iranian American Writers

at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop

16 W32nd St, Suite 10A New York, NY 10001

Celebrate Now Ruz, our common New Year, with an evening of fiction and memoir by ground-breaking writers from the Afghan and Iranian American diasporas. Acknowledging the deeply entwined histories of our peoples and the overlapping richness of our literary traditions, this reading is inspired by our desire to forge new artistic collaborations in the US, where the breadth and insight of our many stories are most urgently needed.

Join contributors to the forthcoming Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American LiteratureNaheed Elyasi, Sedika Mojadidi and Sahar Muradi–along with best-selling novelist Dalia Sofer, debut novelist Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet and poetic prose writer Aphrodite Desiree Navab for readings and conversation to welcome in the new year.

This event will be hosted by Zohra Saed, co-director of the Association of Afghan American Writers, and Manijeh Nasrabadi, co-director of the Association of Iranian American Writers.

Sponsored by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop (aaww.org), the Association of Iranian American Writers (www.iranianamericanwriters.org), the Association of Afghan American Writers (www.afghanamericanwriters.wordpress.com) and Arte East (arteeast.org)

$5 cover charge. A collection will also be taken to support the Committee to Protect Journalists. cpj.org

See author bios below for more information:

Naheed Elyasi fled Afghanistan in 1982, three years after the Soviet invasion. Her family walked across the mountains into Pakistan, where they lived for one year before being accepted as refugees to the United States. Naheed grew up in North Carolina, where she studied Communications and Public Relations. After completing her degree at East Carolina University, she moved to Atlanta, where she studied Fashion Design. Her love for fashion brought her to New York in 1999, where she worked as an assistant designer at Maggy London and in the production department at Marc Jacobs.  She eventually left fashion to pursue a career in not for profit, and joined School of Hope, an organization that raised funds for schools in Afghanistan. Naheed is currently the Director of Communications at the Council for Economic Education, and a contributing writer for Zeba Magazine.

Sedika Mojadidi is a documentary filmmaker who has produced both independent films and television projects. Her film work includes two experimental documentaries shorts on Afghanistan, Kabul, Kabul and Zulaikha, both distributed by Third World Newsreel. Her feature length documentary, Motherland Afghanistan, about her father’s struggle to make a difference as an OBGYN working in Afghanistan, aired on the Independent Lens Documentary Series and screened at the AFI Film Festival. The United Nations Populations Fund, (UNFPA) hosted national screenings of Motherland Afghanistan to raise awareness about the maternal health fistulas crisis in Afghanistan and globally. Sedika has lectured extensively on issues of Afghan identity, maternal health and filming in Afghanistan throughout the country. Her writing will be published in an anthology of Afghan American writing. Currently, Sedika is a supervising producer on a medical series, Boston Med, for ABC News in the long form documentary unit.

Manijeh Nasrabadi is co-director of the Association of Iranian American Writers (iranianamericanwriters.org). She received her MFA in creative nonfiction from Hunter College, where she also taught creative writing workshops. She was a 2008 recipient of a Hedgebrook writing residency. Currently, she’s a doctoral student in American Studies at New York University. Her essays and articles have appeared in About Face (Seal Press), Hyphen Magazine, Tehran Bureau and Callaloo.

Sahar Muradi was born in Kabul, Afghanistan.  She and her family emigrated to the United States when she was three years old. She grew up in New York and Florida.   Sahar received her B.A. in Literature and Creative Writing from Hampshire College, and her M.P.A. in Interntional Development from New York University.  Sahar has written extensively about her family experiences, as well as reported on current events in Afghanistan.  Her writing has been featured in literary magazines, newspapers, as well as read on public radio.  In 2003, Sahar returned to her native Kabul to work for two years. She helped coordinate a donor conference with the Foreign Ministry, as well as managed a small grant program for civil society development.  She is currently a Program and Trek Coordinator for the international organization, buildOn.  She lives in Brooklyn. She is co-editor of the first Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature (University of Arkansas Press, forthcoming).

Aphrodite Désirée Navab is a Greek Iranian American artist and writer based in New York City (b. 1971, Iran). She uses visual art and writing to investigate transnational issues in art, education, cultural and women’s studies.  The world premiere of her solo show, She Speaks Greek Farsi was at ICC Athens, Greece. Navab’s creative nonfiction and fiction are published or forthcoming Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora, Homelands; Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and Time and other anthologies. She is currently writing her novel.

Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet teaches Middle Eastern history and directs the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Her books include Frontier Fictions: Shaping the Iranian Nation, 1804-1946 (Princeton University Press, 1999) and Conceiving Citizens: Women, Sexuality, and Religion in Modern Iran (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2010). She is also completing a book on America ’s historical relationship with Iran and the Islamic world entitled, The Making of the ‘Great Satan’: A History of US – Iranian Relations (under contract with Princeton University Press). Her first novel, Martyrdom Street, will be published by Syracuse University Press in 2010.

Zohra Saed received her MFA at Brooklyn College. Her poetry and essays have been published in numerous anthologies and journals.  Most recently in  Gallerie International Journal: Afghanistan Ed. Bina Sarkar (India: 2009); The Crab Orchard Review (Summer/Fall 2009); and in Speaking for Herself: Asian Women’s Writings (Penguin India Books: 2009). She has performed as part of the cast of the legendary theater director Ping Chong’s Undesirable Elements in 2000 and in 2007, where the ensemble caste performed at the first National Asian American Theater Festival. She is co-editor of the first Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature (University of Arkansas Press, forthcoming).

Dalia Sofer was born in Tehran, Iran. At the age of eleven she moved to New York, where she attended the Lycée Français de New York, and later, New York University. Dalia received an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and has been a resident at Yaddo. She is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, of the 2008 PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship, and of the 2009 Sami Rohr Choice Award. Her novel, The Septembers of Shiraz, was selected as a 2007 New York Times “Notable Book of the Year,” was a finalist for the Jewish Book Award in 2008, and has been (or is in the process of being) translated and published in sixteen countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Israel, and Brazil. She has published essays in various anthologies, and has been a contributor to Poets & Writers magazine, the New York Times Book Review, the Academy of American Poets’ National Poetry Almanac, and NPR. She lives in New York City.

___________________________

Conflict Nations Program: Afghanistan
Zero Film Fest

December 10, 2009
7 p.m.
Issue Project Room 232 3rd Street Brooklyn, New York 11215

ArteEast is pleased to co-sponsor the Conflict Nations Program: Afghanistan at the Zero Film Fest.

In a time when the majority of festivals are Hollywood marketing campaigns, and even “indie” and “underground” festivals screen financed films, the Zero Film Fest offers something different—recognizing authentically independent films and filmmakers who take risks and fight the odds to see their visions through.

The Conflict Nations Program is  a muti-disciplinary exploration of the Afghan experience including a visual art installation, guest speakers, readings and film screenings.

Readings by Afghan American writers:

Sahar Muradi
Zohra Saed
Masood Kamandy
Naheed Elyasi

Film Screenings:

Rethink Afghanistan, Robert Greenwald (62 mins) Feature Documentary

Greenwald portrays Afghanistan as a nation — or, more accurately, a collection of tribal affiliations — that has never been pacified by force in its long history and the present American endeavor as doomed to failure.

Rethink Afghanistan, from Robert Greenwald, the man behind Outfoxed, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and Iraq For Sale, “presents the complex, harsh and enduring legacy of the Afghan War.”
– Joel Epstein, Huffington Post

Skateistan — To Live and Skate in Kabul , Kai Sehr (7 mins) Documentary Preview

Inspired by Skateistan, Afghanistan’s first skateboarding school, this emotional feature-length documentary is a journey deep into the lives of Afghanistan’s urban youth. It chronicles the efforts of a grass-roots organization to build the first skate hall in Kabul, follows the first international crew of pro skaters on their visit to Afghanistan and tells a tale of the irrepressible hope found within a nation’s children.

Co-sponsored by Arte East

_________________________________

Witness to War: Afghan Poetry & Narratives

Center for Place, Culture, and Politics

City University of New York Graduate Center

October 23, 2009

Center for Place, Culture and Politics presents an evening of readings from Afghan American writers. These pieces are by survivors, those who escaped, those who returned, those haunted, those who have suffered loss. Their work is published in the first Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature (University of Arkansas Press, forthcoming) Edited by Zohra Saed and Sahar Muradi. Authors:

Masood Kamandy is an image maker and an aspiring sufi who splits his time between Brooklyn and Khorasan. He is currently studying the relationship between word and image through a collaborative series of photographs, videos and found objects on his website wordsbecomeimages.com.

Naheed Elyasi fled Afghanistan in 1982, three years after the Soviet invasion.  Her family walked across the mountains into Pakistan, where they lived for one year before being accepted as refugees to the United States. Naheed grew up in North Carolina, where she studied Communications and Public Relations.  After completing her degree at East Carolina University, she moved to Atlanta, where she studied Fashion Design. Her love for fashion brought her to New York in 1999, where she worked as an assistant designer at Maggy London and in the production department at Marc Jacobs.  She eventually left fashion to pursue a career in not for profit, and joined School of Hope, an organization that raised funds for schools in Afghanistan.  Naheed is currently the Director of Communications at the Council for Economic Education, and a contributing writer for Zeba Magazine.

Zohra Saed received her MFA at Brooklyn College. Her poetry and essays have been published in numerous anthologies and journals.  Most recently in  Gallerie International Journal: Afghanistan Ed. Bina Sarkar (India: 2009); The Crab Orchard Review (Summer/Fall 2009); and in Speaking for Herself: Asian Women’s Writings (Penguin India Books: 2009). She has performed as part of the cast of the legendary theater director Ping Chong’s Undesirable Elements in 2000 and in 2007, where the ensemble caste performed at the first National Asian American Theater Festival. She is co-editor of the first Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature (University of Arkansas Press, forthcoming).

Afifa Yusufi is currently a student at the Albany School of Social Welfare completing her MSW. She is a Queens College and Columbia Alumni. In 2006 she worked with U.S. government officials in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq. She was born in Kandahar and fled the Russian invasion of Afghanistan with her family when she was two. She returned in 2003 to Afghanistan to assist U.S. Medical and Civil Affairs unites on behalf of destitute Afghans. She has done volunteer work with a number of nonprofits and is a recipient of the 2006 Volunteer Excellence Recognition Award from Bpeace.

Sedika Mojadidi is a filmmaker and writer. Her most recent documentary film, Motherland Afghanistan was aired on PBS. Her films on Afghanistan and the Afghan-American experience include: Kabul, Kabul and Zulaikha.

Sahar Muradi was born in Kabul, Afghanistan.  She and her family emigrated to the United States when she was three years old. She grew up in New York and Florida.   Sahar received her B.A. in Literature and Creative Writing from Hampshire College, and her M.P.A. in Interntional Development from New York University.  Sahar has written extensively about her family experiences, as well as reported on current events in Afghanistan.  Her writing has been featured in literary magazines, newspapers, as well as read on public radio.  In 2003, Sahar returned to her native Kabul to work for two years. She helped coordinate a donor conference with the Foreign Ministry, as well as managed a small grant program for civil society development.  She is currently a Program and Trek Coordinator for the international organization, buildOn.  She lives in Brooklyn. She is co-editor of the first Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature (University of Arkansas Press, forthcoming).

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