HBKU Press will once again work in collaboration with the esteemed Art Omi to hone the literary skills of writers from across the Middle East this fall. This partnership has been successfully renewed annually since 2019 as a consistent demonstration of the shared understanding of the importance of literary education, collaboration, and nurturing the creative spirit. As in years past, this program will fully sponsor one Arab writer to attend the annual Art Omi: Writers residency in Ghent, New York. HBKU Press has worked with Art Omi in the previous years to platform unique talents and voices from the region, who have each begun their journeys as aspiring writers and have since gone on to become accomplished, prolific authors
“HBKU Press is proud to continue this ongoing creative collaboration with Art Omi,” said Bachar Chebaro, Executive Director of HBKU Press. “We not only prioritize cross-cultural exchange as strategic practice here at HBKU Press, but as a way to empower Arab authors to use their voices and tell unique stories from our region to the rest of the world.”
HBKU Press is steadily expanding in growth and visibility as it introduces its catalogs to an increasingly global audience and provides readers everywhere with high quality literature. During the residency, writers from around the world are invited to attend a month-long retreat and take advantage of the opportunity to focus on their craft in a quiet, conducive environment away from the stressors of everyday life. Writers will be able to engage and connect with literary talents such as other writers, publishers, editors, and industry professionals in the picturesque farmland with inspiring views of the Hudson River Valley.
"The community at Art Omi is richer because of our partnership with HBKU Press,” said Art Omi Director, DW Gibson. “Our collaborative work to support a promising writer from the Middle East helps us fulfill our mission to encourage the development of contemporary literature across languages and cultures. We're grateful to be working with HBKU Press to fulfill this mission and we look forward to finding the perfect candidate for 2023."
Lilas Taha was the first author selected by the program in 2019 to attend the residency. Award-winning Taha is the author of Shadows of Damascus (Soul Mate Publishing, 2014), Bitter Almonds (Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press, 2016), Lost in Thyme (Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press, 2018), and its sequel Found in Thyme (Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press, 2023), her latest novel slated for release later this year. Taha was born in Kuwait to a Syrian mother and a Palestinian father and immigrated to the U.S. as a result of the Gulf war in 1990. She earned a master's degree in Human Factors Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Pursuing her true passion for creative writing, Lilas brings her professional interests and Middle Eastern background together in her novels.
“My experience at Art Omi was invaluable,” said Lilas Taha , remembering her tenure at the residency program in New York. “The time I spent in the company of highly motivated authors from around the globe enriched me as a person and enhanced my ability to sharpen my writing skills. Isolation and immersion in the majestic setting of Ghent in upper state New York sharpened my senses. Exposure to various agents and editors at the heart of the publishing industry in the US delivered to me a better understanding of the entire writing process. I’d return to Art Omi in a heartbeat when another chance arises.”
Similarly accomplished is author Layanne Malluhi, winning writer of 2020. Born in Syria, Layanne emigrated to the U.S. as a young child. Her life, spent living between the U.S and Qatar, has impacted her writing greatly. She feels that much of her work bears witness to competing paradigms, traditional and progressive, spiritual and secular, Islamic and Western. Recently she studied in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. Her short story, The Know-dom, was a prize winner in Chatham University’s "Crossing Borders" contest. Malluhi has also worked in documentaries and received an Al-Jazeera Award for her ﬁlm, From Victims of Poverty to Victims of Abuse, which focused on domestic worker abuse. She is currently working on a series of ﬁction and non-ﬁction texts that try to mediate between irreconcilable pieces of her cultural identity.
HBKU Press is accepting applications to the residency program on its website. This opportunity is open to all writers, although preference is given to mid-career writers. Applicants must have an intermediate grasp of the English language as the residency and its workshops are all in English. A full application package includes the application (found on hbkupress.com), statement of purpose (1000 words), a writer’s CV to be submitted in English, and a writing sample (5000 words) that can be in English or in Arabic. Only completed applications will be considered.
For more information and details on the requirements, terms, and conditions, and to apply for the residency, please visit hbkupress.com. The deadline for the application is April 1, 2023, and all applicants must submit a complete application in order to qualify for consideration.