Poetry Readings and Book Talks


The Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies Presents:

Title: A Poetry Reading by Ahmad Almallah, University of Pennsylvania, Artist in Residence

When: March 15, 2023, 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Where: The Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Poulton Hall, Room 200 and on Zoom

Co-Sponsor: The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies


The Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies presents:

Title: A Poetry Reading by Fowziyah Abu Khaled

When: Wednesday, February 8, 2023, 5:00 PM

Where: On Zoom and in person (CCAS Boardroom, ICC 141)

Co-Sponsor: The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies



In Celebration of National Poetry Month, the Arabic Literature Colloquium Presents:

Title: A Poetry Reading by Ahmad Almallah
When: Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 5:00 PM
Where: Via Zoom (RSVP Here)
Co-Sponsored by: The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and The Department of English


Title: Art and Film Making in Saudi Arabia
When: Thursday, April 2, 5:00 PM
Where: Zoom ( https://georgetown.zoom.us/j/953468323 )

Title: Vernacular Interventions: Politics of Modern Iraqi Colloquial Poetry
When: Wednesday, October 30, 6:30 PM
Where: CCAS Boardroom, ICC 141 (Enter through 241)
Co-Sponsored by: The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

We’re thrilled to be hosting Dick Davis, the acclaimed translator of Persian poetry, to speak this fall on his work and new book, The Mirror of My Heart. 

When: Thursday, October 24, 5:00 PM
Where: Riggs Library
Co-Sponsored by: the Department of Medieval Studies, the Comparative Literature Program, the Department of English, the Georgetown Humanities Initiative, and the Office of the College Dean.



Professor Ahmad Alqassas will be discussing his new book, A Multi-Locus Analysis of Arabic Negation Micro-Variation in Southern Levantine, Gulf and Modern Arabic.
When: Wednesday, April 10, 3:00 pm
Where: Poulton 230

Title: Poetic Praxis and Performance in the Prose Poem
When: Tuesday April 4, 2019, 3:00 PM
Where: CCAS Boardroom, ICC 141 (Enter through 241)

Presenter: Gerhard Bowering, Yale University
Title: “Christianity in The Qur’an”
When: March 20, 2018, 3:00 pm
Where: ICC 141 (Enter through 241)

Presenter: Thomas Milo
When: November 5, 2018, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Where: ICC 141 (Enter through 241)
Register here

Silicon Valley has shown indifference to communities who use the Arabic script in many different languages. For Arabic characters are diminished by the computing industry standard of Unicode, which cannot account for the calligraphic legacy of Arabic with its complicated orthography and elaborate script rules.

Thomas Milo will present a new concept, independent of Silicon Valley restraints, that preserves the characteristics of Arabic-related script–and that has the potential to be developed into a comprehensive solution suitable for browser-based applications. This new concept is embodied in the Mushaf Muscat, the Omani electronic edition of the Qur’an, launched in 2017 by the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman.

This event is for Georgetown faculty, students, and staff interested in digital design, Arabic script, and/or the politicization of technology.

About Thomas Milo:

Thomas Milo is a linguist (Slavic, Turkic, Arabic), researcher, and pioneer of Arabic font technology, who works in a team with a designer-architect (Mirjam Somers), an aircraft engineer (Peter Somers), a mathematician (Stan Jesmanowicz) and a designer-artist (Lara Captan). Thomas Milo has been working to bridge the gap between scholarship and computer technology since the 1980s, with a focus on Cyrillic and Arabic text encoding and modeling traditional Islamic scripts. He holds the Peter Karow award for exceptional innovations in digital type and typography and represents the Sultanate of Oman as full member of the Unicode Consortium.

Co-hosted by:

The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS)
The Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies (AIS)
The Communication, Culture, and Technology Program (CCT)

Presenter: Saud Alsanousi: Book Talk
Event in Arabic (Register here)
When: October 29, 2018, 12 pm
Where: ICC 270
Event in English (Register here)
When: October 29, 2018, 6:15 pm
Where: ICC 141

Saud Alsanousi is the author of the award winning novel The Bamboo Stalk, which takes an unflinching look at the lives of foreign workers in Arab countries and confronts the universal problems of identity, race, and religion.

Co-hosted by:
The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS)
The Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies (AIS)


Presenter: Anwar Alsaad, The American University of the Middle East, Kuwait
“The Memory of Place – A case-study of two Kuwaiti novels”
The Mice of My Mother Hessa by Saud al-Sanousi
All the Things by Bothayna al-Essa
Presented by: Anwar Alsaad, The American University of the Middle East, Kuwait
When: 4:00 pm, Thursday, July 19, 2018
Where: CCAS Boardroom (ICC 241)

Presenter: Alice Kaplan, Yale University
Title: “How L’etranger Became the Stranger”
When: February 7, 2018 at 5:00pm
Where: Copley Formal Lounge

Presenter: Samuel England, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Title: “Saddam and al-jahiz – learn arabic in Basra”
When: November 16, 2017 at 5:00pm
Where: ICC 462


Presenter: Hamad Obaid AlajmiI
*Lecture will be in Arabic*
“The pre-Islamic Battle of Dhū Qār: From History to Collective Memory”
Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature, Kuwait University
Visiting Research Scholar
Department of Arabic & Islamic Studies, Georgetown University

When: Tuesday November 29th 5:00pm

Where: CCAS Boardroom (ICC 241)

This paper attempts to trace the legacy of the Battle of Dhū Qār, a celebrated, if semi-legendary, pre-Islamic victory of the Arab tribe of Bakr ibn Wāʾil and the clans of Banū Shaybān over the Persian army. Employing current concepts of Collective Memory, this study will show how narratives and poetry associated with the Battle of Dhū Qār have been perpetuated, at least since the Abbasid period, in the context of Arab-Persian rivalry. It will also focus on two modern situations in which the Battle of Dhū Qār has been evoked: the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) and the Saudi-Houthi conflict (2015-). It will address what is remembered and who remembers it; who is included and who is excluded; and, above all, what purposes the commemoration of the Battle of Dhū  Qār serves in Arab culture.

Please join us and CCAS for a lecture by Professor Greg Thomas on “George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine” with an introduction by Professor Elliott Colla, on October 4th, from 6:00-8:00pm in the CCAS Boardroom (ICC 241)

Co-Sponsored by:
Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS)
Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies

Presenter: Nasser Yousef Al-Hassan Athamneh, Yarmouk University
Please join us for a poetry a lecture, buffet lunch and reception 12:00-2:00 pm Wednesday, 7 September in ICC 462. The lecture will be given in Arabic.


Muzaffar al-Nawwab (1934-2013) is a contemporary Iraqi poet. His poetry proves him to be a champion par excellence of Arab political opposition. While his poems reflect an unusual capacity for oscillating within the same poem between the themes of love/women, Sufism, philosophical reflection, and politics, staunch and uncompromising political opposition to present-day Arab regimes and political elites remains the major theme of his poetry.

One major device al-Nawwab employs to promote his ideology and assert his political stance is intertextuality. This becomes evident when we notice how replete his poems are with references to cultural landmarks from the Arab-Muslim tradition and heritage, together with biblical references and, to a lesser extent, references to contemporary revolutionary figures. By manipulating such references and using them as contexts for the themes and characters of his poems, al-Nawwab succeeds in accentuating the impotence and futility that he systematically and unequivocally associates with present-day Arab regimes and political systems. By the same token, he stresses the dire need for political awareness and uncompromising struggle on the part of Arab people, whom he characteristically pictures as exploited and oppressed. Indeed, al-Nawwab evokes the past relentlessly to incite revolution and rebellion against Arab regimes and the political status quo throughout the Arab World.

The lecture will start with a brief introductory note and biographical sketch of Muzaffar al-Nawwab, followed by reading aloud of some samples of his poetry, and leading to a discussion of and critical commentary on some samples of his poetry in which intertextuality serves as a means of assertion and foregrounding of the notion that the political status quo in the Arab World is no longer to be tolerated.

Arabic Abstract
Poetry Texts


The Poetry of Qassim Haddad: Selected Poems and Translations
[The program will be in Arabic with the poems in both the Arabic original and English translation]
Selected, Translated and Introduced by AIS Graduate Students of:
Fall 2015 ARAB 670: Modern Arabic Poetry:Poetry and Translation
Hasan al-Sulami
Fuad Saleh
Miguel Merino
Hatem al-Zahrani
With music provided by AIS PhD student: Nicholas Mangialardi
When: Tuesday, 8 December, 5:00-6:30 
Where: Poulton Hall, Room 230
**Refreshments will be provided!
Fall 2015 – Modern Arabic Poetry and Theory


Presenter: Dunya Mukhail
*Reading from her new diwan will be in Arabic*

Dunya Mikhail was born in Iraq and is the author of The War Works Hard (New Directions, 2005), which was shortlisted for Griffin and named one of “Twenty-Five Books to Remem-ber from 2005” by the New York Public Library. Her Diary of A Wave Outside the Sea (New Directions, 2009) won the 2010 Arab American Book Award. Mikhail has six poetry books in Arabic; the most recent one is The Iraqi Nights (Mesopotamia Press, Baghdad, 2013). In 2001, she was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. In 2013, she was named a Kresge fellow for literary arts.

When: March 28th, 12:30 – 2:00 pm
Where: ICC 450

Presenter: George Saliba, Columbia University
“Experimentation in Arabic Science and Philosophy: Exploring the Concept of I‘tibār.”
When: Wednesday March 5th, 6:00pm
Where: CCAS Board Room, ICC 241

This talk will focus on a representative sample of medieval Arabic texts which employ the term I‘tibār or its derivatives and try to explore the various meanings in which this term was understood. It will also explore its relationship to what we now call experimentation, in a variety of fields including literary, scientific, as well as philosophical domains.


The Department of Arabic & Islamic Studies and the Center for Contemporary Studies invite you to a reading event, Translation Workshop, of the “The Lady from Tel Aviv” by Raba’I Al-Madhoun  (Author) and Elliott Colla (Translator).
When: Feb. 26th, Time: 6:00 – 8:00pm
Where: CCAS Boardroom, ICC 241


Presenter: Professor Jonathan Brown, Book Launch
Professor Jonathan Brown will be discussing his new book, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy. Lunch will be provided.
When: Thursday February 5th, 12:30pm
Where: CCAS Boardroom, ICC 241


Sultan Qaboos Lecture presented by: Dr. Suzanne Stetkevych
Title: “Irony, Teleology and ‘Stopping at the Ruins’ Al-Ma`arri’s Luzumiyyat and the Poetics of 11th century Syria”

Please join us Thursday, October 30th at 6pm in the CCAS Boardroom (ICC 241) for the inaugural Sultan Qaboos Lecture with Dr. Suzanne Stetkevych.

Reception to Follow.

*Public Reading with Novelist Hoda Barakat will be in Arabic*

For more than two decades, acclaimed Lebanese writer Hoda Barakat has pushed the boundaries of Arabic fiction. She is the author of al-Hajar al-dahik (1990), Ahl al-hawa (1994), and Harith al-miyah (2001), novels that narrate the violence, resolve, and beauty of modern Lebanese society in remarkably daring ways. She was awarded the prestigious al-Naqid Prize for her first novel and the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for her third. Barakat will read from her latest novel, Malkut hadhihi al-ard, and discuss her current work.
When: October 25th, 12:30 – 2:00 pm
Where: Mortara Center Conference Room

*Public reading in Arabic *
Hamdy El-Gazzar is one of Egypt’s leading writers and one of the 39 young Arab writers included in the Beirut 39 Project. His first novel, Sihr Aswad (Dar Merit, 2005) won the prestigious Sawaris Award, and was subsequently translated by Humphrey Davies (Black Magic, AUC Press, 2007). His second novel, Ladhdhat Sirriyya (Secret Pleasures) was published by Dar al-Dar in 2008. He will be reading from his newest work, al-Halimun fi-thawra (The Revolution Dreamers).

When: October 15th, 5:00 – 6:30 pm
Where: CCAS Boardroom, ICC 241


Join us for a poetry reading and book signing of Like a Straw Bird it Follows Me with esteemed poet Fady Joudah followed by a Q&A with the author and reception.
This event will be in Arabic with an English translation.
Date: 12 April 2012
Time: 8:00 pm
Location: ICC 241 (CCAS Boardroom)

MAISA KHAWAJA LECTURE IN ARABIC: وعي الذات و تناول المحرمات  في الرواية النسائية السعودية


Please join us for a lecture in memory of Wallace Erwin. This talk will be held on Tuesday, November 13, 3:00pm, in ICC 241.

Jonathan Owens (University of Bayreuth) presents the Wallace Erwin Memorial Lecture:
“Arabic Exceptionalism and the Dangers of Metonymic Thinking”

Jonathan Owens is a Professor of Arabic Linguistics at the University of Bayreuth in Bayreuth, Germany. between 2005-2008 he was Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Advanced Study of Language, University of Maryland. Starting his linguistics career with a SOAS PhD on Creole Arabic Nubi of East Africa, he has taught and conducted research at universities in Libya (Garyounis), Nigeria (Maiduguri), and Jordan (Yarmouk). His books include A Grammar of Libyan Arabic (Harrassowitz, 1984), A Short Reference Grammar of Nigerian Arabic (Harrassowitz, 1993), The Foundations of Grammar: an Introduction to Medieval Arabic Grammatical Theory (Benjamins, 1988), Arabic as a Minority Language (ed. Mouton, 2000), and A Linguistic History of Arabic (OUP, 2006/2009). He is currently editing The Oxford Handbook of Arabic Linguistics.

Wallace M. Erwin (BA Princeton, MA and PhD Georgetown) was a distinguished scholar of Arabic linguistics, specializing in dialectology. He chaired the Arabic department at Georgetown for 17 years (1964-1981) and published two pioneering studies on Iraqi Arabic that are still unsurpassed: A Short Reference Grammar of Iraqi Arabic (1969) and Basic Course in Iraqi Arabic (1970) (both Georgetown University Press; both reprinted 2004). He regularly taught first and second year intensive Arabic, as well as graduate courses in Arabic structure and Arabic dialectology. In addition to his interests in diglossia, variation and dialectology, he was a co-author, along with Peter Abboud and Ernest McCarus, of the first audiolingual textbook series for teaching Modern Standard Arabic, Elementary Modern Standard Arabic (EMSA) (Cambridge University Press).

As chairman of the Arabic Department, Wally pioneered the development of the Arabic curriculum and teaching methodology at Georgetown to the point where the department led most other American universities in size, quality, and effectiveness at the undergraduate and graduate levels. His own approach to teaching was energetic, demanding, systematic, and yet deeply humanistic, making a lasting impression on his students. He served on the Executive Board of the American Association of Teachers of Arabic and was elected its president in 1972. He retired in 1986.

Like a Straw Bird it Follows Me
Bilingual Poetry Reading by Ghassan Zaqtan & Fady Joudah
When: Friday, October 19, 12:00pm – 2:00pm
Lannan Center (New North 408), Georgetown University


The Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies and the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice invite you to a reading of Palestinian poetry with Ghassan Zaqtan, one of the leading poets of the Arab world. Zaqtan will share his most recent collection of work, translated by Fady Joudah and moderated by Professor Dima Ayoub and Professor Mark McMorris.

In this inspired translation of Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, Ghassan Zaqtan’s tenth and most recent poetry collection, Fady Joudah brings to English-language readers the best work by one of the most important and original Palestinian poets of our time. With these poems Zaqtan enters new terrain, illuminating the vision of what Arabic poetry in general, and Palestinian poetry in particular, are capable of. Departing from the lush aesthetics of such celebrated predecessors as Mahmoud Darwish and Adonis, Zaqtan’s daily, delicate narrative, whirling catalog, and at times austere aesthetics represent a new trajectory, a significant leap for young Arabic poets today.

“Ghassan Zaqtan’s poems, in their constant unfolding invite us to enter them, exit them, map and un-map them, code and decode them, fill them up and empty them, with the living and non-living, the animate and inanimate, towards a true freedom.”

Ghassan Zaqtan is a Palestinian poet and author of ten collections of poetry. He is also a novelist, editor, and filmmaker. He was born in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, and has lived in Jordan, Beirut, Damascus, and Tunis. He returned to Palestine in 1994 and now lives in Ramallah.

Fady Joudah is an award-winning poet and translator. Among his translations are two poetry collections by Mahmoud Darwish, If I Were Another and The Butterfly’s Burden.
For more information, please see the Lannan Center website.