On the occasion of the publication of Susan Muaddi Darraj's Behind You Is the Sea—_a new novel bringing the stories of the Palestinian diaspora in Baltimore to life—we're convening a panel of writers and creators to explore the role of art in solidarity, and the necessity of opposing Israel's unfolding genocide in Gaza. _
Susan Muaddi Darraj is an award-winning writer of books for adults and children. She won an American Book Award, two Arab American Book Awards, and a Maryland State Arts Council Independent Artists Award. In 2018, she was named a USA Artists Ford Fellow. Susan Muaddi Darraj’s short story collection, A Curious Land: Stories from Home, was named the winner of the AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, judged by Jaime Manrique. It also won the 2016 Arab American Book Award, a 2016 American Book Award, and was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. For children, she has written numerous YA biographies, as well as the Farah Rocks chapter book series, the first to feature an Arab American protagonist. She was also head writer of the Spotify Original podcast, _Arabian Nights, _for young listeners. Her new novel, BEHIND YOU IS THE SEA, was published in January by HarperVia.
Elissa Blount Moorhead is an artist and director investigating the poetics of quotidian Black life through film. Moorhead has created public art, film exhibitions, and cultural programs, and co-created multimedia projects including Random Occurrences; Cat Calls (Street Harassment project); Practicum; FunkGodJazzMedicine; _and Art in Odd Places. Recent awards include the USA Artist Award, Saul Zaentz Innovation Fellowship, Sundance Episodic Lab, Ford Foundation /Just Films/Rockwood Fellowship, Ruby Award, Creative Capital Award, and the Baker Award Prize. Projects she has directed include; Jay Z’s short film 4:44, a documentary on artist Damon Davis for PBS, an AR/film projection installation, _As of A Now, and Back and Song, a four channel film installation in collaboration with filmmaker Bradford Young ( now touring in NYC and Berlin). She is the author of P is for Pussy, an illustrated “children’s” book and is featured essayist in the anthology How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance. She was a 2020 resident at Eyebeam and a Sundance Episodic Lab participant _and awarded the Comedy Central Award and the Women at Sundance Adobe Fellowship for her series co- created with her sister, writer Ericka Blount Danois, entitled _fiftyTWO. She was a recent Bellagio Italy Rockefeller Resident and a featured artist in Georgia State’s study group “Liquid Blackness”.
Ailish Hopper is a poet and multidisciplinary artist whose work blurs the line between page and social forms, investigating what forces our relationships serve, and collaborating in practice of what a just world can be. Her books of poetry are Bird in the Head, Dark~Sky Society, and the forthcoming Live Edge. Individual poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, POETRY, The Rumpus, in a Bill Moyers' "Civic Poetry" special, and many other places. Among her collaborations are a poetry call-and-response with Fred Moten in the sound-poetry journal, Ythm, and a feature in Ada Pinkston and Kalima Young's "Invisible Architectures" performance. Her ongoing public-art poem, "Help Wanted," inviting people to share their political yearnings, has so far appeared in the Baltimore Sun job ads, MaxRecruit, Indeed.com, Careerbuilder, and LinkedIn. She's currently working on a participatory nonfiction book imagining the US after the reign of white supremacism. A recipient of support from MacDowell, Maryland State Arts Council, and Yaddo, she lives in Baltimore.