Sunday Submissions Arabic: Writing Workshop with Haytham el-Wardany in Berlin

The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture has put out an open call for Arabic-speaking applicants for a “Writing Catastrophe” workshop in Berlin with critical-darling Egyptian writer Haytham el-Wardany:

Details are online in Arabic and English. From organizers:

In the framework of the “Arab European Creative Platform” initiative, The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture(AFAC) is organizing a workshop in Berlin titled Writing Catastrophe under the mentorship of Egyptian writer Haytham Al-Wardany. The workshop is addressed to Arab writers who have recently immigrated to Germany, particularly those hailing from Syria, who are grappling with the burdens of complex, painful and bitter experiences endured during the revolution/war, the trauma of escaping the violence and making their way to safety.

Catastrophe and disaster are earthshaking events that exceed the capacity of an individual or a group of people to endure; neither a problem nor a crisis that can be resolved, but rather a turning point in history, or the herald of a new era. As a radical change, disaster does not require an answer or a solution, but an entirely new beginning, a new language capable of addressing it.

Undoubtedly, writing catastrophe is a complex and heady undertaking that individuals or even generations cannot bear alone; however, it is also ineluctable and persistent. Forging that new language can pave the way for a new awakening, or preface, to enable individuals and communities to surpass it.

How can writing approach disaster? Might it be enough to tell what happened? Is writing dystopia effective? Might the personal story be enough, or the documentary chronicle more appropriate? Or might a poetic approach be more significant? Or irony? What is the role of fiction vis-à-vis a catastrophic reality? Does literature carry a moral responsibility, and is it borne by the writer? The workshop will explore these and several other questions, in the hope of helping writers with their artistic approach to their experience of disaster.

Furthermore, in spite of the relevance of political catastrophe, it is not the only kind that the workshop will interrogate. Some disasters are personal, social, daily, etc., each requires a specific kind of reflection to understand its particularity, and the manner in which it should be approached through writing. The workshop will address different literary strategies and approaches in this area.


The workshop will be held in Berlin from April to July 2018, at the rate of two meetings per month, each spanning two days (in other words at the rate of 4 days each month). The language of discussion and writing in the workshop is Arabic. Participants are eligible irrespective of age, sex or nationality, provided they are proficient in the Arabic language. During these meetings, projects will be developed, in addition to discussions of literary models that deal with different ways of approaching “disaster”, as well as visits to specific sites in Berlin. Participants are required to attend all these meetings.

Participants’ writing projects have to conform with the workshop’s theme, with the aspiration that they will be published separately or in the form of a joint publication.


– A biography or CV.

– A brief description of the project proposed for the workshop.

– Sample of a written work, either from a project in progress or any other previous works. Each model should not exceed 10 pages.

Documents should be sent to the following address:

The deadline for applications is March 30.