Rasha Abbas

Bio: Rasha Abbas is a Syrian journalist and writer of short stories. She is currently based in Stuttgart, Germany. In 2008, she published her first collection, Adam Hates the Television, and was awarded a prize for young writers during the Damascus Capital of Arab Culture festival. In 2013 she co-wrote the script for a short film, Happiness and Bliss, produced by Bedayat, and in 2014 she contributed, both as a writer and as a translator, to Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, published by Saqi Books. Her second short story collection, The Gist of It, was published in 2019.

Events: Narrating the Middle East: The DC Arab Literature Festival


Kareem Abdulrahman

Bio: Kareem Abdulrahman is a Kurdish translator and journalist. He obtained his MA in Journalism from the University of Westminster. He worked for over eight years with the BBC, where translation from Kurdish was part of his remit. He is currently Head of Editorial at Insight, a monitoring and analysis service focusing on Kurdish and Iraqi affairs. In 2013, he was awarded a place on the British Centre for Literary Translation’s prestigious mentorship programme. His translation of prominent Iraqi Kurdish novelist Bakhtiyar Ali's I Stared at the Night of the City – the first Kurdish novel to be translated into English - was published in 2016 in the UK by Periscope. He lives in London.

Events: Day of Translation (2017), An Evening with Translator Kareem Abdulrahman, Lost Countries: A CHEUSE SALON with Busboys and Poets


Nujoom Alghanem

Bio: Nujoom Alghanem is an Emirati poet, artist, scriptwriter and multi- award- winning film director. She has produced eleven films including five short fictions and six feature length documentaries. Her documentaries have won several local, regional and international prizes. She was born in Dubai in 1962. She graduated with MA in Media Production, School of Film, Griffith University in Australia in 1999. In 1996, she finished her Bachelor degree in Video Production from Ohio University in the United States.In terms of work experience, Alghanem has started her professional career much earlier in 1980 when she worked as a journalist for more than ten years. She is considered an active and well-established writer and filmmaker in the Arab world. She recently became a board member of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, which is managed in association with the Booker Prize Foundation in London. She has also been involved as head of jury and jury member in numerous of International film festivals.

Events: Narrating the Middle East: The DC Arab Literature Festival


Maya Abu Al-Hayyat

Bio: Maya Abu Al-Hayyat is the director of the Palestine Writing Workshop, an institution that seeks to encourage reading in Palestinian communities through creative writing projects and storytelling with children and teachers. She has published four collections of poems, four novels, and numerous children’s stories, including The Blue Pool of Questions. She contributed to and wrote a foreword for A Bird Is Not a Stone: An Anthology of Contemporary Palestinian Poetry, and she is also an editor of The Book of Ramallah. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Cordite Poetry Review, The Guardian, and Literary Hub. Abu Al-Hayyat lives in Jerusalem and works in Ramallah.

Events: The Cheuse Salon at BloomBars: Maya Abu Al-Hayyat, A WGST & Cheuse Salon: SWANA Poetry & Art


Kareem James Abu-Zeid

Bio: Kareem James Abu-Zeid is a freelance translator of poets and novelists from across the Arab world, including Adonis, Najwan Darwish, Rabee Jaber, and Dunya Mikhail. His work has earned him an NEA grant (2018), PEN Center USA’s Translation Prize (2017), Poetry Magazine's translation prize (2014), the Northern California Book Award in Poetry (2015), and residencies from the Banff Centre and the Lannan Foundation. He has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and has been a Fulbright Research Fellow in Germany, and a CASA Fellow in Egypt. 

Events: Day of Translation (2018)


Gbenga Adesina

Bio: Gbenga Adesina is a Nigerian poet and essayist. His many subjects include memory, grief, violence, joy, complex joy, the minutiae of love and of home, the sea as archive and as history, migration, and the intimacy and violence of journeys. Matthew Zapruder, poetry editor of the New York Times, selected Adesina’s poem “How to Paint A Girl” for its “empathy and insight into the suffering of another.” Adesina has received fellowships and scholarships from Poets House, New York; the Norman Mailer Center, Newtown, PA; the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA; the Open Society Foundation on Gorée Island, Senegal; Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop at Oxford; and New York University. He was a joint winner of the 2016 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and the 2019 Palette Poetry Spotlight Award. He is currently the Olive B. O’Connor Fellow at Colgate University, where he teaches a poetry class called “Song of the Human.”

Events: Boundless Africa


Bisi Adjapon

Bio: Bisi Adjapon is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Teller of Secrets, whose short story version, "Of Women and Frogs," was nominated for the Caine Prize. She has written for and been featured in many publications including McSweeney’s Quarterly, The Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, Al Jazeera, The New York Times, The Guardian, and the Washington Times. She founded and ran the Young Shakespeare company for four years, and, as an International Affairs Specialist for the US Foreign Service, she won the Civil Rights Award for Human Relations. As an educator, she won an Excellence in Teaching award. She divides her time between Ghana and America.

Events: The Cheuse Center Presents Bisi Adjapon


Rosa Alcalá

Bio: Rosa Alcalá is a poet and translator originally from Paterson, New Jersey, who has published three books of poetry, most recently MyOTHER TONGUE (Futurepoem, 2017). The editor and translator of Spit Temple: The Selected Performances of Cecilia Vicuña (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2012), Alcalá has been the recipient of an NEA Translation Fellowship and runner-up for a PEN Translation Award. She teaches in the Department of Creative Writing and Bilingual MFA Program at the University of Texas-El Paso.​​

Events: Poet & Translator Rosa Alcalá Visits George Mason University


Bachtyar Ali

Bio: Bachtyar Ali is a prominent Kurdish intellectual from Iraqi Kurdistan. He is one of the leading novelists of his generation and by far the most-read Kurdish novelist. He has written over 40 books, including more than 12 novels. His work is partly rooted in recent Kurdish history; they are often a meditation on the themes of revolution, the relationship between politics and arts, friendship, and often seek to give a voice to those who are on the margins of the society. He has been living in Germany since the mid-1990s where he has been awarded the prestigious Nelly Sachs Prize, joining past recipients such as Milan Kundera, Margaret Atwood and Javier Marías. His novels have been translated into seven languages, including English.

Ali was born in 1966 in Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq. In 1983, he was injured during student protests against Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party, and he abruptly ended his studies in geology. He devoted himself to poetry instead and received that same year his first prize, for his poem "Nishtiman" (“Homeland”). After the revolt of 1991, writers and intellectuals in the Kurdish region of Iraq experienced a surge of creative autonomy. In his criticism, he is well known for employing Western philosophical concepts to interpret an issue in Kurdish society, modifying or adapting them to the context. His novels similarly synthesize literary traditions, drawing from contemporary Kurdish events as well as fantastical elements. In Kurdistan, he is celebrated for his non-partisanship and open criticism toward the political and social relationships in his homeland. Bachtyar Ali has lived in Cologne since 1998.

Events: Lost Countries: A CHEUSE SALON with Busboys and Poets


Kazim Ali

Bio: Kazim Ali is the author of Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water, as well as several volumes of poetry, novels, essay collections, and cross-genre texts. His collections of poetry include Sky Ward, winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry, and The Far Mosque, winner of Alice James Books’ New England/New York Award. Ali is also an accomplished translator and the editor of several anthologies and books of criticism. He has taught at various colleges and universities, including Oberlin College, Davidson College, St. Mary’s College of California, and Naropa University. He is currently a professor of Literature and Writing at the University of California, San Diego.

Events: What Translation Sparks


Jeffrey Angles

Bio: Jeffrey Angles is a poet, translator, and professor of Japanese literature at Western Michigan University. His collection of poetry Watashi no hizukehenkōsen (My International Date Line, 2016), which he wrote in Japanese, won the Yomiuri Prize for Literature, making him the first non-native speaker ever to win this award, comparable to a Pulitzer in the United States, for a book of poetry. In addition, he has published dozens of translations of Japan’s most important modern authors and poets, earning numerous prizes for his translation work. He believes strongly in the role of translators as activists, and much of his career has focused on the translation into English of socially engaged, feminist, or queer writers.

Events: Day of Translation (2019), What Translation Sparks


Zaina Arafat

Bio: Zaina Arafat is an LGBTQ Arab-American fiction and nonfiction writer. She is the author of the novel, You Exist Too Much, which won a 2021 Lambda Literary Award and was named Roxane Gay's favorite book of 2020. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications including The New York Times, Granta, The Believer, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Harper's Bazaar, BuzzFeed, VICE, Guernica, Literary Hub and NPR. In recognition of her work, she was awarded the Arab Women/Migrants from the Middle East fellowship at Jack Jones Literary Arts and named a Champion of Pride by The Advocate.She lives in Brooklyn and is currently at work on a collection of essays. As an editor, she curated a portfolio of prose and poetry in response to the travel ban, as well as a Q & A series with Muslim writers forThe Margins. 

Events: Narrating the Middle East: The DC Arab Literature Festival


Sam Ashworth

Bio: Sam Ashworth received his MFA in Fiction from George Mason in 2018 and is a professor of Creative Writing at George Washington University, where he created a class called The Working Writer, which gives students the tools they need to navigate the publishing and freelancing landscape. His writing has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, the Brooklyn Rail, Roads and Kingdoms, and Bookslut. He has been a fellow at the TENT Creative Writing Seminars. His first novel, The Death and Life of August Sweeney, was longlisted for the Dzanc Prize for fiction.

Events: Literary Lives Abroad


Zeina Azzam

Bio: Zeina Azzam is a Palestinian American poet, writer, editor, and community activist. She is currently the Poet Laureate of the City of Alexandria, Virginia, where she also volunteers for local organizations that advocate for the civil rights of vulnerable communities. Her chapbook, Bayna Bayna, In-Between, was released in 2021 by The Poetry Box, which nominated one of her poems for a Pushcart Prize. Zeina’s poems are published or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Passager, Gyroscope, Pensive Journal, Streetlight Magazine, Cutleaf Journal, Mizna, Sukoon Magazine, Barzakh, Making Levantine Cuisine, Tales from Six Feet Apart, Bettering American Poetry, Making Mirrors: Writing/Righting by and for Refugees, Gaza Unsilenced, and others. An advocate for Palestinian human rights and development initiatives, Zeina serves as a mentor for We Are Not Numbers, a writing program for youth in Gaza. She holds an M.A. in Arabic literature from Georgetown University, an M.A. in sociology from George Mason University, and a B.A. in psychology from Vassar College.

Events: Narrating the Middle East: The DC Arab Literature Festival,The Cheuse Salon at BloomBars: Maya Abu Al-Hayyat