The Places we Carry: Poetry and Prose Night

Wed 24 July, 18:00
Join us at Grand Junction for a special evening to celebrate literature and music from the Middle East and North Africa. An evening curated by Dima Karout to mark the closing of The Places We Carry exhibition. You will hear from inspiring Londoners with heritage from the Arab world: Hafiza IbrahimHassan AbdulrazzakRama AlcoutlabiLaith Elzubaidilisa minerva luxx and Sarona Bedwan.
The event is performed in English with short Arabic contributions.

5.30 pm:  Exhibition doors open. A chance to visit the exhibition before the event starts.

6pm: A 20 minute exhibition curator tour of the undercroft and chapel with Dima Karout.

7 pm: Readings and guest contributions inside St Mary Magdalene’s church

The event is free, but booking is required.

Guests / Performers:

Hafiza Ibrahim is a Palestinian poet originally from Akka City. Born in Beirut, she emigrated to the UK in the early 1990s. She obtained her BA in Education, Social and Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths College, University of London, followed by a postgraduate degree in Creative Writing. Hafiza is a certified English language teacher, translator, and interpreter (Arabic-English). She was nominated for the ‘Best Arab Female Poet’ by the Arabs Group Achievement Award for the Best Creative Arab in the World in 2020 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Fakher Al-Arab Magazine for Poetry, Criticism, and Literature in 2022. Hafiza’s writing style evokes the collective unconscious through her poems, urging readers to engage deeply with her work. Her published works include a collection of poems in Arabic entitled Ini Aida (I Shall Return) and a series of prose and poetry books in English.

Hassan Abdulrazzak is an award-winning writer of Iraqi origin, born in Prague and living in London. His plays include The Special Relationship (Soho Theatre, 2020), And Here I Am (Arcola Theatre, 2017 and currently touring), Love, Bombs and Apples (Arcola Theatre 2016, and touring), The Prophet (Gate Theatre, 2012) and Baghdad Wedding (Soho Theatre, 2007 and international productions in Mumbai and Sydney). His published plays are available from Bloomsbury. Hassan has translated numerous Arabic plays and contributed to several anthologies including Iraq + 100 (Comma Press). The script of his short film ‘A Night of Gharam’ won the Unsolicited Scripts Short Film Grant 2022. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Rama Alcoutlabi is a dedicated scholar and passionate musician originally from Syria. She moved to the UK in October 2020 after being awarded a scholarship for academic excellence and leadership achievements. Holding an MSc in Research and International Development, Rama currently works as a research assistant at IPSOS UK.

Rama is the founder of Music for Peace Building, an initiative that integrates music education with mental health support. Alongside a co-founder, she developed an innovative music curriculum that is being piloted to teach music to refugees across London. This work is conducted in collaboration with renowned charities such as JRS and Babylon, as well as Barnet Council and their refugee hotels.

As a musician, Rama sings and plays various Middle Eastern instruments, performing traditional music and songs from Turkey, Greece, and Iran. The repertoire includes ancient languages and religious music such as Arabic Sufi, Aramaic, and Hebrew. RA is currently working on music projects in these diverse languages to highlight the shared musical heritage of these cultures, aiming to bridge gaps and build connections. Her musical interests span across genres including traditional, classical, jazz, and hard rock.

Laith Elzubaidi is a British-Iraqi Comedy and Drama Screenwriter and playwright based in London. He is also the founder of the British-Arab Writers Group and part-time producer at the arts charity Counterpoints Arts- which supports creatives from refugee and migrant backgrounds.

He recently won Soho Theatre’s annual playwriting competition, the ‘Tony Craze Award’, for his play ‘Insane Asylum Seekers’-  with Olivier-nominated director Emily Ling Williams attached to direct. He was also recently selected from 1400 applicants for the BBC Comedy Collective Supercharged Bursary Scheme; winning 15k (including a 5k development grant).

He runs the biggest collective of British-Arab writers in the UK: the ‘British Arab Writers Group’ – They host and facilitate writers rooms, talks from industry figures, and events that seek to take their member’s craft to the next level. They currently have over 100 members across the UK.

lisa minerva luxx is a British Syrian poet, playwright, essayist and political activist.

In 2021 luxx released their poetry collection Fetch Your Mother’s Heart to critical acclaim. Their poems have been published in New England Review, The Telegraph (as ‘Poem of the Week’), Poetry London, Sukoon, wildness, Poetry Daily, and more. Both their poetry and essays have been anthologised by the likes of Penguin, Saqi Books, Hatchette. Translations of their work have been published in Arabic, Italian, French and German.

luxx wrote three verse plays and librettos, including what the dog said to the harvest. They guest lecture at universities on post-colonial and decolonial literary analysis, the queer body politic, and revolutionary poetics. They also write about resistance methodologies for Al Jazeera, PEN Transmissions and other outlets.

In 2020, luxx founded Nehna Hon, an anti-racism community-organising group in Beirut. Before that they were co-founder of eLaa Beirut, an international organisation supporting the mental health services in Lebanon following the Beirut Blast of 2020. They are now a part of the revolutionary movement, Palestine Action.

luxx’s short story collection, Raising Sun Son, is forthcoming with Comma Press.

Sarona Bedwan is the Outreach & Programmes Manager at Makan, a Palestinian led educational organisation. She has a Masters in Art & Politics from Goldsmiths University. She spent five years co-organizing community efforts to protect low-income workers and unionize students in cities across the Southern US. She’s published in Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research (2020) and other platforms.

Dima Karout has over 20 years’ experience in creating and managing art projects, curating and producing exhibitions, and designing publications and learning programmes. She specialises in socially engaged art and its contribution to research, creative health, and inclusive societies.

She is a trusted advisor on strategies and public programmes supporting complex innovative projects. Throughout her career, she promoted equality, inclusion and creative learning having authored and delivered diverse programmes at internationally renowned universities, museums and humanitarian charities. She gained strong cultural awareness and a global mind-set through her international experience including in Damascus, Paris, Montréal and London.

Her collaborations in London include: the GLA (Greater London Authority), Horniman Museum, the British Museum, the Migration Museum, Shakespeare’s Globe, Brent Museum, Counterpoints, Groundwork London, University of Westminster, Play for Progress amongst many others. Since January, Dima collaborated closely with our team and local residents to design and curate The Places We Carry exhibition and reflective space.

Date: Wednesday 24 July 2024

Doors: 17.30 – Exhibition doors open to view

Curator tour: 18.00

Event Start Time: 19.00

Event Length: approx. 1.5 hours

Tickets: Free

Venue: Grand Junction at St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Rowington Close, London W2 5TF

Closest Stations: 

Royal Oak (Circle and Hammersmith & City line) 0.3 miles

Warwick Avenue (Bakerloo line) 0.4 miles

Paddington Station (National Rail services and Circle, District, Bakerloo, Hammersmith & City line) 0.9 miles