How can we remember what we can’t forget? This year marks 70 years since the day of catastrophe, or Nakba, dispossessed Palestinians from their homes and lands. There is no shortage of anniversaries when it comes to Palestine; whether it’s 101 years since the Balfour declaration or a quarter of a century since the Oslo accord. In the Gaza strip, one war ends only for another one to begin.
Behind the headlines and milestones and tweets, there are people and stories and morning rituals. There are memories and details so resilient they pass from one generation to another, they cross borders and traverse checkpoints to be captured in poems and plays, novels, art pieces and a whole tableau of rich and vibrant life.
What shapes current Palestinian memory? Is it the place, the events, the people, the political figures, the martyrs, the heroes, the children, the walls and fences, the hope? Why do writers even write?
Join us for an evening of poetry and prose with Palestinian writers Jehan Bseiso, Selma Dabbagh and Ahmed Masoud who will give their reflection on memory and read from their recent works.
Jehan Bseiso is a poet and aid worker. Her poetry has been published in various online and print publications. Her co-authored book I Remember My Name (2016) won the Palestine Book Award. She is co-editor of the forthcoming poetry anthology Making Mirrors: Writing/Righting by and for Refugees. She has worked with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders since 2008.
Selma Dabbagh is a British Palestinian writer of fiction. Based in London she has also lived and worked in Cairo, Jerusalem and Bahrain. Her first novel, Out of It, (Bloomsbury), set between Gaza, London and the Gulf, was a Guardian Book of the Year in 2011 and 2012. It has been translated into Italian, French and Arabic. The publications that have anthologised her short stories include Granta, the British Council, Wasafiri and Al Saqi. In 2014, her play, The Brick, was produced by BBC Radio 4 and nominated for an Imison Award. She regularly writes for The Electronic Intifada on Palestinian culture and has written for The Guardian, The London Review of Books, GQ and other publications. She is currently working on a film script, short stories and a second novel. www.selmadabbagh.com
Ahmed Masoud is the author of the debut novel Vanished – The Mysterious Disappearance of Mustafa Ouda. Ahmed is a writer and director who grew up in Palestine and moved to the UK in 2002. His theatre credits include Camouflage (London 2017) The Shroud Maker (London 2015/18), Walaa, Loyalty (London 2014, funded by Arts Council England), Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea (London and Edinburgh 2009) and Escape from Gaza (BBC Radio 4, 2011). Ahmed is the founder of Al Zaytouna Dance Theatre (2005) where he wrote and directed several productions in London, with subsequent European Tours. After finishing his PhD research, Ahmed published many journals and articles including a chapter in Britain and the Muslim World: A Historical Perspective (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011). An earlier version of Vanished won the Muslim Writers Awards (London 2011 supported by Penguin Books). For more information, please visit www.ahmedmasoud.co.uk