Friday, October 26, 2018
The Writing University conducts is a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the International Writing Program's fall residency. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.
Today we are speaking with Haifa ABU AL-NADI, a fiction writer, screenwriter, and translator from Jordan.
1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for your time at the residency?
Yes, I do. I am working on a new collection of literary texts that are expressed from the view point of a woman who is longing for the cities her loved one goes to. It is entitled “In Love With Your Cities.”
2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?
Well, I do not really have a daily writing practice. Sometimes months pass without writing anything! I don’t force myself into the act or process of writing. I just let it come as it wishes. But when the idea comes to my mind, I grab it from its tail and never let go of it, even if I am busy driving for instance. I pull over and start writing. I remember that once I let go of a certain idea I can’t even recall now because I was driving, and said to myself: “It’s ok Haifa. You’ll write it when you’re home.” But, unfortunately, I totally forgot what that idea was about. Ideas become sad and angry when writers ignore them or postpone writing them! I learned a good lesson from that incident. By the way, when I don’t find paper, I write on my arms and hands!
3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?
I am reading some articles written by John Berger taken from his book “Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance.” I started with translating some of Berger’s articles for Abdul Mohsen Al-Qattan Foundation (Ramallah), then I ended up reading other articles for pleasure and to learn more.
4. What is something the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and/or your work?
I believe I am a dreamer who lives in a world full of actualities. I tend to look for revelations and more power to women. I do my best to walk through my journey staring at the sky and singing “It’s better to travel than to arrive.”
5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home?
I am from Jordan, but I’m originally from Palestine. I come from a place that is famous for its hospitality, generosity, modernity, and its special heritage and tradition. Jordan comes first in every heart and mind. We are a country comprised of all walks of life: Jordanians, Palestinians, Chechen, Iraqis, Syrians, Muslims, Christians, etc. What I like most about us is that we are one family despite our differences. Food can bring us together and holds great cultural significance. It is served in every occasion making it very special. A quick visit Downtown Amman, which is the old city of Amman, is worth taking a stroll. The colorful shops, the different people you see in the streets, the sensory flow of daily life, the Roman Theatre, the various and many bookseller and book shops scattered on the sidewalk, and dessert shops everywhere!
Thank you Haifa!
Haifa ABU AL-NADI (fiction writer, screenwriter, translator; Jordan) teaches English at the Applied Sciences University in Amman, and translates for the Kalima and Al-Qattan foundations. Author of screenplays and magazine articles, in 2012 she published the volume of stories على أهبة الحلم [On the Threshold of Dreaming] and, in 2016, the collection مُراودات [Propositions]. She participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. State Department.