An open letter from poet-activist Mona Kareem and ArabLit editor M Lynx Qualey:
“Everything has weight.
Your weight is well known to the back walls
because your heavy shadow doesn’t give the asphalt, the paint,
or the writings stuck on the windows a chance to appear.
You also have space, significant space,
in the void.” – Ashraf Fayadh
Dear editors, writers, artists, friends:
On Thursday, July 28, writers, artists, journalists, and bloggers around the world will be composing tweets, blogs, verse, videos, images, and more in support of the Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh, sentenced to death last November in Saudi Arabia for his poetry, which accusers claimed “spread atheism,” among other things. His death sentence was repealed this February, following worldwide protests. He was re-sentenced to eight years and 800 lashes.
Writers and artists around the world — including Wole Soyinka, Orhan Pamuk, and Adonis — have shown their support for Ashraf. More than 200 readings were held, at sites around the world, for Ashraf on January 14. Leading Moroccan poet Abdellatif Laabi recently published a French translation of Ashraf’s book, which was released by Le temps des cerises. A Spanish collection, Palabras Para Ashraf, includes work by Cervantes Prize winner Antonio Gamoneda and Royal Spanish Academy member Félix de Azúa. An English translation will be pre-released in August by The Operating System press in Brooklyn.
Despite this support, Ashraf is still alone in prison. Ashraf needs your support so that he won’t be be forgotten and vulnerable in prison.
Let us be loud enough that he hears us.
1 – Share Ashraf’s story on Twitter, instagram, in a Facebook status, on Tumblr. English PEN has a summary of his case. #FreeAshraf
2 – Quote from his poetry. His most recent poem, “Tense Times,” is available on The Guardian. Other poems are linked here. Share it online or in person. Make it your email signature file. Make or share e-cards with his poems.
3 – Write your own poem in response to Ashraf’s poetry, art, or his life story.
4 – Make a video (of yourself reading a poem, a filmpoem, of an explanation of what happened to Ashraf, or something else).
5 – Write a personal essay or blog about your response to Ashraf’s work, or about one of his poems.
6 – Do a podcast or radio broadcast (where you discuss Ashraf’s work with a poet or artist, or read his work aloud, or something else).
7 – Draw a cartoon (political or otherwise).
8 – Make digital art for Ashraf or draw his portrait.
9 – Compose and perform a song.
10 – Write a short play, as Hassan Abdulrazzak’s “The Several Beheadings of Ashraf Fayadh.”
For more information: Mona Kareem <mona.kareem – at – gmail – dot – com> or Marcia Lynx Qualey <mlynxqualey – at – gmail – dot – com>.