So, you are out there. There are actually people who read this blog. I never believe it until someone leaves a comment or asks me why I’ve been so lazy for the past…3 months. I am not stressing. From the beginning, I told myself that this blog would not be a chore, an assignment, a task. It would be there for me, and for you, when I could get to dipping into the world around me. It’s true that I have had a sort of writer’s block; that is, I’ve blocked myself from writing – to be clear that it doesn’t happen to a writer, but from a writer. But also, I actually have been working on a project, one that I feel quite proud of and had the pleasure of working with a great team on.
Beirut is a place that if all its beauty was left to its devices, without the tampering of human garbage and corruption, you would never want to leave it. If it were bottled and packaged you’d have everything you needed. Through teaching writing courses at AUB, I continually see the talent and ideas that are washed ashore from students who really can put words down on paper. And who have the potential for so much more. But how many Lebanese writers have you read lately? Not many, I’m sure. And I’ve had a most recent discovery: the breadth of visual artists at AUB, as well as throughout the city, who probably have more opportunity to display their work than writers, but whose talents and skill are not always recognized.
This past December, writers and artists were merged into a literary and art journal called Rusted Radishes. Yes, we put out a really good literary and art journal from Beirut. OH yea! Excuse me if I’m thrilled. The original team comprised Crystal Hoffman, a poet and former Department of English faculty member, from Pennsylvania who graced us with her infinite presence for one year, and me (Rima Rantisi) as faculty editors, and an amazing group of student editors. You can refer to our Web site for more information on our mission and who were the founding and current editors. The journal is out in the world now: in departments throughout AUB, in cafes and shops throughout Beirut, in MFA departments across the U.S., and soon it will be in bookshops in Pittsburgh and Chicago. I won’t be romantic about it. But I will say it makes me very happy to see the fine work of Lebanese students and people from around the world in this compilation.
During March 6-9, Crystal will be taking Rusted Radishes to the AWP (Association of Writers and Writer’s Programs) where she will wo-man Table X with other literary journal editors, including Mizna, the only Arab-American literary journal in North America.
Our submissions period is now! And ends March 15. Please pass the message along to people who write or make art. And submit, submit, submit! Please go here for full submissions guidelines.
So this is what I’ve been preoccupied with. And we’ll see if I can muster up more writing of my own real soon…but first, the semester starts tomorrow and I’ve gotta go about the illustrious writing of syllabi!
If you are in Beirut, you may purchase a copy at Chico’s, Cafe Younes, or City Stationery in Hamra for 15,000 LL. For those of you abroad, you will be able to find an issue on our Web site in the next few months.
Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter @Rusted Radishes for regular updates.