Bewketu Seyoum speaking to a class during his time at GMU.
Bewketu Seyoum speaking to a class during his time at GMU.

We live in an age where writers are more in danger than ever—many have been forced to flee their countries because of the nature of their work and their creative activities. At Mason, the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center partners with organizations to provide temporary refuge, a safe place to work, and an audience for these writers. In 2021 and 2022, the center hosted Ethiopian poet, novelist, essayist, and humorist Bewketu Seyoum through a partnership with the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) and City of Asylum—Pittsburgh. Honored as Ethiopian Best Novelist of the Year in 2008 and Best Young Author in 2009, he is widely regarded as one of the leading poets of his generation. Through the Cheuse Center’s Writers-at-Risk program, we were able to help Bewketu extend his stay in the United States. 

Writers who join the Cheuse Center through this program receive space to work on their projects and also participate in the D.C. metro and Mason campus literary communities. They also engage in public events and help create connections between different cultures. This program is the Center’s response towards supporting a world where freedom of expression is a treasured value.   

Our donors make this work possible and their gifts help provide housing, financial assistance, and community building for these writers. A one-year residency for a writer-at-risk requires $60,000 in funding. You can help by making a gift online. 

If you would like information on other methods of giving, or to discuss how you can help support this important work, please contact our development liaison, Alecia Bryan, at abryan4@gmu.edu or (703) 993-3503.