Elmaz Abinader (ألماظة أبي نادر) makes no secret of her concerns as a ?writer and an activist. Much of her focus comes from growing up Arab-american, ?from coming from a part of the country that lacks diversity and from developing ?political and moral values consistent with ideas of compassion, equity and ?respect for the earth.
Elmaz's books, Children of the Roojme, a Family's Journey from Lebanon,?and In the Country of my Dreams...., as well as her play, Country of Origin ?illustrate personal lives of Arabs and Arab Americans negotiating hostile terrain, ?cultural polarities, and geographic and social displacement. Her other works, 32 ?Mohammed, Ramadan Moon, The Torture Quartet and Messages from the Siege ?provide an articulation of the effect of political actions on personal lives both here ?and in the Middle East. The Oregon Drama Critics cited Country of Origin for?its excellence by awarding two Drammies to the play and to the composer of the ?music, Tony Khalife. Other awards include a PEN Award for In the Country of My ?Dreams... and a Goldies Award for Literature.
Elmaz has also been a Fulbright Senior Fellow to Egypt and a winner?of several residencies. Children of the Roojme was the first memoir?about Arab-Americans published by a trade publisher in the U.S.
Her upcoming work The Water Cycle is a two-part memoir that draws from elmaz's ?childhood experiences growing up in a all-white Appalachian coal mining ?community and her subsequent journeys to the middle East, Lebanon and many of ?the countries in the Gulf and North Africa. Each story describes an encounter with ?the shaky concept of identity and cultural relationship.
Her writing comes from a tradition in her culture and family to tell stories, create ?poetry and fill the house with music as a way of communicating the significant ?moments of a life, a family and a village. After receiving her MFA in poetry from ?Columbia University, she worked in advertising, then supplemented it with ?teaching in various schools throughout New York. Later, she was awarded her ?PHD from the University of Nebraska where her dissertation was built around the ?source materials for Children of the Roojme. Elmaz won a post doctoral ?fellowship, The Schweitzer Post-doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, which gave ?her the opportunity to work with Toni Morrison for two years developing her first ?book.
Now a professor at Mills College, Elmaz's primary concern is giving voice to other ?writers of color. Her participation in VONA allows her the opportunity to make a ?difference in the growth of the cannon of literature of color.??In addition, Elmaz is a fitness instructor at the YMCA in Oakland CA where she ?lives with her husband Anthony Byers.
(From Abinader's Official website)
- Children Of The Roojme: A Family'S Journey From Lebanon. 1991
- In the Country of My Dreams. 1999