Los Angeles, USA can look forward to several forthcoming Arab and Arabic literature events, thank to the recently expanded Levantine Cultural Center:
The first is on August 29, when Moroccan poet-translator El Habib Louai will be accompanied by musician Youssef Iferd, and the second on September 22, when the “We Are Iraqis” literary and musical salon will feature Deborah al-Najjar, Leslie Cockburn, and poets & writers reading from the collection Al-Mutanabbi Starts Here.
Co-founder of the LCC, Jordan Elgrably, answered a few questions about the center:
ArabLit: When in 2001 did you open up the Levantine Center? What were the motivating factors & first events you put on? How has it grown? What have been the major landmarks in the last 12 years?
AL: What audience(s) does it reach? How do you see the LA Levantine Center as different from other ME art centers in the US, such as ArteEast?
JE: Our audience is ethnically, religiously and culturally diverse. For instance, a July/August 2013 poll of over 5,000 constituents revealed that approximately a third of respondents are Muslim, a third Christian, and a third Jewish. 50% of the audience members attending a June 2013 public conversation on Turkey were not Turkish.
AL: What kind of literary events have you done? What literary events have your audiences been most interested in?
JE: The Levantine Review publishes creative nonfiction and poetry related to the Middle East, North Africa and its diaspora, informing readers on cultures and arts that are not always readily accessible in mainstream media.