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Sat, Mar 11


Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum

[AWP Offsite] Ways with Words: Honoring the Paths of Women Immigrants and Refugees

[AWP Offsite] Ways with Words: Honoring the Paths of  Women Immigrants and Refugees
[AWP Offsite] Ways with Words: Honoring the Paths of  Women Immigrants and Refugees

Time & Location

Mar 11, 2023, 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM

Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum, 93 Pike St #307, Seattle, WA 98101, USA

About the Event

Poet and storyteller Merna Ann Hecht and Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum invite to explore the divergent paths of  women immigrants  and refugees from around the world.

Journey with us through poetry readings from Washington's State Poet Laureate and civic Poet Claudia Castro Luna, Lake County's Poet Laureate and Academy of American Poets fellow Georgina Marie Guardado, retired Assistant Teaching Professor of Persian Language and Literature at the University of Washington Shahrzad Shams, co-founder of ACHD and Somali-language poet Hamdi Abdulle, Afghani poet Mariyam Faizi and Somali poet Muna Aidid.

The evening will conclude with a wine reception to celebrate our wonderful readers on the last evening of AWP.  

Claudia Castro Luna is Washington's State Poet Laureate (2018–2021) and served as Seattle's inaugural Civic Poet (2015–2017). She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets, Poets Laureate Fellowship and the author of Killing Marías (Two Sylvias), finalist for the WA State Book Award 2018, This City (Floating Bridge), and One River, a Thousand Voices (Chin Music Press). Born in El Salvador she came to the United States in 1981. She has an MA in Urban Planning, a teaching certificate, and an MFA in Poetry. Her non-fiction has appeared in the anthologies This Is the Place (Seal Press), The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the US (Northwestern University Press), and Vanishing Points: Contemporary Salvadoran Narrative (Kalina Eds). Living in English and Spanish, Claudia writes and teaches in Seattle, where she gardens and keeps chickens with her husband and their three children.

Georgina Marie Guardado was raised in Lakeport, California. As part of the Broken Nose Collective, an annual handmade chapbook exchange, she created her first poetry chapbook, Finding the Roots of Water, in 2018 and her second chapbook,Tree Speak, in 2019. In 2020, she was an Anne G. Locasio scholar for the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference poetry workshop. The Literary Coordinator and Poetry Out Loud Coordinator for the Lake County Arts Council, she served as co-editor for the Middletown Art Center’s RESILIENCE and RESTORE collections of written word and visual arts funded by the California Arts Council. She is the current Lake County Poet Laureate for 2020-2022, the first Mexican-American and youngest to serve in this role for Lake County. In 2021, Guardado received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.

Shahrzad Shams is a retired Assistant Teaching Professor in Persian. As a trained linguist (Applied Linguistics M.A. California State University, Fullerton, 1985) she anchored the University of Washington's Persian & Iranian Studies Program courses in First- and Second-Year Persian for 13 years and continues to serve as the liaison between the university and the Iranian American community.  Ms. Shams is also the President of Peyvand nonprofit organization and an active organizer and promoter of Persian cultural events in the community.

Hamdi Abdulle is a prominent leader in the Puget Sound region, and has over 20 years of experience working with the African Diaspora immigrant and refugee community. She a co-founder of ACHD, and is a former educator who holds degrees from Lafoole University and George Mason University. Hamdi received South King County Council's Human Services Equity and Social Justice Award for exemplary community leadership and advocacy. She is polylingual (English, Somali, Arabic, and Italian), and a Somali-language poet.

Mariyam Faizi is from Afghanistan. She arrived in the U.S. in 2017. Mariyam graduated from High School in 2022 and she is now studying at Bellevue Community College. She will never give up on her country or on writing about it. She continues to believe that peace will come, and women will be free. For Mariyam, it is all about women and their rights, always!

Muna Aidid arrived in the U.S. from Somalia in 2018. This past June she both graduated from high school and earned her AA degree in Human Services. She is now pursuing her education at the University of WA where she will focus on International Relations. Muna hopes for the time when there will be justice for her people in Somalia and that her country will be safe and reunited.

Merna Ann Hecht, storyteller, poet and teaching artist founded the Stories of Arrival: Refugee & Immigrant Youth Voices Poetry Project at Foster High School in Tukwila one of the most culturally and language diverse schools in the U.S. Her writing, arts activism and teaching are guided by her commitment to bring marginalized voices through art, story and poetry to wide community visibility. She has taught Humanities, and Arts and Social Justice Courses for the University of WA, Tacoma. Merna’s work appears in Teachers & Writers Magazine; Our Food, Our Right: Recipes for Food Justice; Making Mirrors: Writing and Righting Refugees; WA 129; and other books and journals.She recently received a certificate of completion from the Harvard Medical School Program in Refugee Trauma. Merna and her husband are long time Vashon Island residents where they live on a blueberry farm. She was Vashon’s Poet Laureate from 2017-2019.


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