Series

Writing in Exile

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Samah Sabawi

‘For Palestinian writers, we write for our lives,’ Samah Sabawi has written. ‘We write to exist.’

Sabawi is an award-winning playwright, author, essayist and poet. She’s also a policy advisor for Palestinian policy network Al-Shabaka, and the second featured speaker in our PEN Writing in Exile series.

Sabawi's family left Palestine following Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip when she was a baby in 1967. She’s lived and worked across the globe throughout her life, but retains strong ties to the place of her birth. In Australia, she’s perhaps best known for her play, Tales of a City by the Sea, which won two Drama Victoria awards in 2016 and has also been rapturously received by audiences in Palestine, Canada and Malaysia. In the same year, the prolific Sabawi contributed to the anthology I Remember My Name, which received Middle East Monitor’s 2016 Palestine Book Award. Her most recent play, THEM, premieres later in May 2019 at the La Mama Courthouse.

Sabawi’s writing is concerned with displacement, conflict and diaspora. ‘Through writing our stories, our poems and songs,’ she has written, ‘we reconstruct our erased past, assert our present and try to shape our future.’ She’ll discuss writing for her life on Thursday 6 June with Sami Shah.

Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.

Who?

Portrait of Samah Sabawi

Samah Sabawi

Samah Sabawi is an award-winning playwright, author and poet. Her critically acclaimed play Tales of a City by the Sea was selected for the 2016 Victorian Certificate of Education Drama Playlist, won two Drama Victoria awards for best new Australian publication and best performance for VCE and was nominated for Best Independent Production at the Green Room Awards. The play was staged to full houses and standing ovations in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Malaysia, Canada and Palestine and is on the study list of a number of universities and schools around the globe.

Portrait of Sami Shah

Sami Shah

Comedian and writer Sami Shah has been profiled in the New York Times and ABC's Australian Story, and appeared on BBC Radio 4, BBC Asian Network, TEDx, The Project and the Soho Theatre. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia and is co-presenter of 774 / ABC Breakfast Radio.

How much?

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Writing in Exile

‘Exiles see double, feel double, are double,’ André Aciman has written. ‘When exiles see one place, they're also seeing – or looking for – another behind it.’

For this series, in partnership with PEN Melbourne, we’ll draw on the double vision of some incredible international writers, living and working in exile here in Melbourne. What are the dangers, sorrows and consolations of writing about home, away from home? How can distance warp and focus a writer’s perspective? And what do Australians need to know about the freedoms denied to citizens of other countries? Hosted by Sami Shah – himself an exiled writer originally from Pakistan – we’ll hear from journalists, authors and poets.

Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.

Where?

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