February 1st-May 31th, 2017
Wendy's Subway is pleased to announce the second in a series of one to two month-long residencies designed to host artists, publishers, special collections, and libraries. In February and March (extended through May!), Wendy's Subway will host Makhzin, in collaboration with founding editor, Mirene Arsanios.
For Makhzin’s residency at Wendy’s Subway, the writers Iman Mersal, Mona Kareem, Yasmine El Rashidi, and Marwa Helal will select and introduce 10 books formative to their writing. The selection will serve as a starting point to discuss the voices, narratives, and identifications available to them as female writers writing in Arabic and/or English.
Although personal and specific to each writer, the selected books will also point to larger and more structural publishing histories: when and where were the books published? Were they translated? Reprinted? By compiling research around these questions, Makhzin will map ways in which the personal and structural intersect. The information gathered will be presented in a wall map at Wendy’s Subway.
Writing and translation workshops will be programmed around the book selections. In parallel to the public programming, Makhzin and Wendy’s Subway will produce a publication in collaboration with designer and artist Gerardo Madera.
Launched in 2014 as part of 98weeks Research Project’s “On Publications,” Makhzin is a yearly, bilingual English and Arabic magazine for fiction, prose, poetry, essays, and occasional translations. In addition, Makhzin publishes long-form interviews between writers, artists, and thinkers every month. Makzhin’s yearly issues are also available in print. More online here.
About Mirene Arsanios
Mirene Arsanios is the author of The City Outside the Sentence (Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, 2015). Her writings have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, The Rumpus, The Animated Reader, and The Outpost, among others. She is the co-founder of the research collective 98weeks in Beirut and the founding editor of the bilingual magazine, Makhzin. She holds an MFA in Writing from Bard College and an MA in Art Theory from Goldsmiths College. She currently lives in New York City where she was a 2016 LMCC Workspace resident.
About Gerardo Madera
Gerardo Madera is a graphic designer and self-publisher. He is an adjunct professor of design in SUNY Purchase’s New Media program.
Poets Translating Poets: Sargon Boulus
Workshop led by Mona Kareem
Friday, February 17th, 6:30-8:30pm
Limited capacity: 12 people
Free, donation suggested to support public programs
Almost all modernizers of Arabic poetry were translators. al-Sayyab translated T.S. Eliot, Saadi Yousif translated Cavafy, Whitman, and Lorca, and Adonis translated Bonnefoy and Georges Schéhadé. Translation was not a mere "bridge" between cultures but an act of writing other literatures within; utilizing their ventures for greater experiment. One influential figure of the poet-translator would be the Iraqi poet Sargon Boulus (1944-2007) who spent most of his lifetime in exile between Beirut, San Francisco, and Berlin. An anthology of Sargon's Arabic translations is soon to be published by Dar Al-Jamal bringing together texts by 130 poets!
The practice of poetry and translation are inseparable for Sargon; they together actualize his political and literary being. When revolutionary nationalisms occupied Arabic poetry, he gifts us the anti-nationalist poems of the Beat Generation. When the Anti-Vietnam war movement ascends, he translates Ho Chi Minh and an anthology of Vietnamese poets. When Etel Adnan is exiled again in another language, he brings her home through a translation of In the Light and the Darkness of the Self and of the Other.
In this workshop, we will visit the poetry of Sargon Boulus, both in Arabic and English, to frame a larger discussion on the figure of the poet-translator: why and how Arabic poets translate? what are the methods, negotiations, and aesthetics present in Sargon's American translations? how does translating poetry help locate exiled writers within diasporic Arabic literature and, at the same time, within an American literature (beyond language)?
Mona Kareem is a poet-writer-translator based in New York. She is the author of three poetry collections, some of which were translated into French, English, Spanish, Dutch, German, Farsi, Italian and Kurdish. Her published translations include an Arabic-English edition of Ashraf Fayadh's Instructions Within and an Arabic selection of Alejandra Pizarnik's poems. She is a doctoral candidate in the Comparative Literature program at Binghamton University, working on a critique of the Arab feminist novel. She teaches writing classes while freelancing for a number of Arabic publications.
Vernacular as Resistance
Workshop led by Marwa Helal
Thursday, February 23, 6:30-8:30pm
Limited capacity: 12 people
Free, donation suggested to support public programs
Register here.Vernacular as Resistance, led by Marwa Helal, is the second workshop organized as part of Makhzin's residency at Wendy's Subway. What is vernacular literature? What is its role in dismantling the oppressor’s language and assumptions? What happens to power when the oppressor co-opts the vernacular of the oppressed? And why would the oppressor want to co-opt the oppressed’s vernacular? Could it be becoz our power is embedded, encoded in our vernacular? We will explore these questions and read texts that challenge imposed ideas of hierarchy. Workshop discussion will be centered around Rotten English ed. Dohra Ahmed, Sleeping with the Dictionary by Harryette Mullen, Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, and works by Basquiat, Mutu and Ra.
Reading materials for the workshop will be shared digitally ahead of time.Marwa Helal is a poet and journalist. Her work appears in Apogee, Hyperallergic, the Offing, Poets & Writers, the Recluse, Winter Tangerine and elsewhere. She is the author of Invasive species (Nightboat Books 2019) and the winner of BOMB Magazine’s Biennial 2016 Poetry Contest. Helal has been awarded fellowships from Poets House (2017), Brooklyn Poets (2016) and Cave Canem (2016). Born in Al Mansurah, Egypt, Helal currently lives and teaches in Brooklyn, New York. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the New School and her BA in journalism and international studies from Ohio Wesleyan University. @marwahelal on Twitter or www.marshelal.com.
An Evening with Iman Mersal, in Conversation with Mona Kareem
Friday, May 26, 7pm
Wendy's Subway is pleased to present an evening with poet Iman Mersal organized in conjunction with Makhzin, our current publication-in-residence.
For its residency, Makhzin has invited female Arab authors to select and share books that were formative to their writing. In conversation with poet and translator Mona Kareem, Iman Mersal will discuss her selection while challenging the literary and canonical value of the term “influence”. “I thought for a moment that what has influenced us is more than what we know has influenced us. When we talk about influence we talk about what we remember, recognize, and also what we think of as "great literature", as if there are no traces of what has been forgotten, as if bad literature lacks any power over us,” she writes. The discussion will weave biographical material from the life of the author with broader historical considerations on the books themselves.
Familiarity with Arabic is welcome but not required.
Iman Mersal is an Egyptian poet, essayist, translator and literary scholar. She is the author of five books of Arabic poetry, selections from which have been translated into several languages, including English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Hebrew and Hindi. In English translation, her poems have appeared in Parnassus, Paris Review, The Nation, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review and Michigan Quarterly Review. A selection of Mersal's poetry, entitled These Are Not Oranges, My Love, and translated by the poet Khaled Mattawa, was published in 2008 (Sheep Meadow Press). Her most recent publications include an Arabic translation of Charles Simic's memoir, A Fly in the Soup (Al Kotob Khan, 2016, Cairo), and a group of essays, “How to mend: on motherhood and its ghosts” (Kayfa ta and Mophradat, 2017). Forthcoming in 2017 is Images of America in Arabic Travel Literature (in Arabic, Al Kotob Khan), based on her 2009 dissertation from Cairo University.
In Egypt, Mersal served as editor of two cultural and literary reviews, Bint al-Ard (from 1986 to 1992), which she also co-founded, and Adab wa Naqd (from 1994 to 1996). She moved to Boston in 1998, and then to Edmonton, Canada, where she is currently an associate professor of Arabic literature at the University of Alberta. She was a EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin, 2012-13.
On Translation & Vernacular: Marwa Helal and Mona Kareem
Wednesday, May 31, 7:30pm
Wendy's Subway is pleased to present On Translation and Vernacular, an event organized in conjunction with Makhzin, our current publication-in-residence.
In February, Mona Kareem and Marwa Helal led the workshops Poets Translating Poets on the Iraqi poet-translator Sargon Boulus (Kareem), and Vernacular as Resistance (Helal). The workshops were programmed as part of Makhzin’s residency at Wendy’s Subway, which invited Arab and Arab-American female writers to select 10 books that influenced and shaped their practice.
In a joint conversation, Kareem and Helal will discuss their selection, address broader themes of translation and vernacular, and how these resonate with their own poetry and/or translation work. The discussion will be moderated by Makhzin editor Mirene Arsanios and Wendy's Subway, and a followed by an open mic for attendees and past workshop participants to share their writing.