Exploring Iranian Identity: An Upcoming Opportunity for Writers

Hello, friends! We want to announce an exciting upcoming opportunity that might be of interest to those of you in the Bay Area.

Several years ago, we had the great fortune of attending a writer’s workshop entitled “Exploring Iranian Identity.” The workshop, taught by the wonderful Persis Karim and Anita Amirrezvani–both esteemed writers and educators–was life changing for us. Not only was it where the first seeds of the Iran Musings anthology were planted, but it was also the first time either of us had been surrounded by other writers who were similarly interested in Iran and what it means to be Iranian. Over the course of two glorious days, we discussed work by published Iranian writers, crafted new writing through guided exercises, had our work critiqued in a safe and supportive space, and, most importantly, made lasting friendships.

We are excited to share the news that Persis and Anita are holding another session of the “Exploring Iranian Identity” workshop! Held on two consecutive Sundays this November (11/6 and 11/13), the workshop will take place at the Persian Center in Berkeley, CA. For more information, please see the flyer below or visit the Exploring Iranian Identity Facebook page. You will receive a $50 discount for registering early:  https://goo.gl/forms/bFRJ2M92jVr7jZkN2 Please spread the word!

Persis and Anita are two of the loveliest and most supportive individuals we know, and we are confident that you will benefit immensely from their extensive teaching and publishing experience. Our participation in this workshop has enriched our writing and our personal lives, and we cannot recommend it highly enough. If you have questions about registration, please email persisk@yahoo.com or workshops@anitaamirrezvani.com.

As Iranian writers of the diaspora, we have much to say but often have few spaces in which to feel comfortable, supported, and validated doing so. We believe passionately that our voices–our stories–should be heard.

nov-16-writing-wkshp-flyer

 

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Fall 2015 Update on Iran Musings Submissions

It has been some time since we last posted, and the Iran Musings submission deadline has now come and gone. We were amazed and heartened by the outpouring of submissions to the anthology. Due to the high volume, we will need to take the next month or so to sort through everything and communicate with each of the writers individually. Once we have a better sense of how the anthology is taking shape, we will make the final decisions for inclusion and can start posting excerpts of the pieces online (with the individual writers’ permission).

It’s staggering how much has changed since we first began thinking of curating the Iran Musings anthology. When this project was still in its infancy, the Iran Deal was very much up in the air. Unfortunately, these days, the news is filled less with hopeful talk about the lifting of sanctions and more with stories of journalists, poets, and other creatives being arrested, seemingly on a daily basis. Indeed, it’s clearer than ever just how vital a project Iran Musings is. The fact that so many writers from our community–not to mention those who are connected to it more indirectly–were brave enough to share their work with us is nothing short of inspiring. Although we still have a lot more to read, what we’ve read thus far affirms the level of talent and creativity that’s thriving among Iranians of the diaspora. There are so many stories to be shared, and so much that deserves a voice. We hope that Iran Musings can deliver on both those fronts. Stay tuned!

Birth of an Anthology

The inspiration for Iran Musings came out of an incredible writing workshop on Iranian identity held in January 2015 at the Persian Center in Berkeley, CA. Led by acclaimed authors Persis Karim and Anita Amirrezvani, the workshop “Exploring Iranian Identity” brought together writers from across the Iranian spectrum. This diverse and multi-generational group included people who were born and educated in Iran, individuals with both Iranian and American parentage, and Americans married to Iranians, among others. We came together for two inspired days to write, read, and share our work. The recurring themes that arose over the course of the workshop clarified the urgent need for voices that speak to the Iranian diaspora experience and that counter the vilification of Iran in the news media. “Publish your work,” Persis and Anita urged us. “The narrative needs to be elevated beyond the political rhetoric in ways that allow a more nuanced view of Iran and Iranian culture.” Their main point was that we’ll never move the conversation forward if Americans don’t see the human side of Iran and Iranian people.

 
From the fertile soil of this workshop grew the anthology Iran Musings: Stories and Memories from the Iranian Diaspora. We the editors–Leila Emery, who traveled from North Carolina to participate, and Katherine Whitney, who attended the workshop for the second time–have taken our teachers’ impassioned manifesto and hope to create a non-fiction anthology that showcases the diversity of Iranian experiences as well as work from non-Iranians who feel a connection to Iranian culture. We have encouraged our fellow workshoppers to submit their non-fiction work, and we look forward to a wide assortment of pieces that fill in the gaps in the general public’s understanding of Iran and Iranians. For information on submitting your work, please see the Call for Submissions.