Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mayn Zard: Kurdish Engineer Trains Successful Dance Group


Kurdish Engineer Trains Successful Dance Group
Mayn Zard has appeared at the Kurdish Festival in Mexico. It has performed at the Canadian Parliament, during a celebration marking Newroz. Photo courtesy of Mostafa Nosraty
By Ava Homa
TORONTO, Canada – Without funds and relying only on volunteer dancers, Toronto-based engineer Mostafa Nosraty has beaten the odds to showcase the beauty of Kurdish dance to audiences in Canada and Mexico, and has invitations to perform in the United States and Europe.
Mayn Zard, a Kurdish dance group founded by the Iranian-born Kurd in 2010, has used creativity and determination to offer new choreographies every few months, while remaining true to the core of Kurdish dance.
The troupe has shined for three years across Canada, presenting the beauty of Kurdish dance, music, and garments to enthusiastic audiences.
At the “60x60 Dance” talent show in Toronto, the word “Kurd” was mentioned for the first time and raised a lot of curiosity and admiration, after a performance by Mayn Zard. The International Lions Clubs praised the dance, the dancers and their background, and raised awareness about the situation of the Kurds.
Nosraty, 40, is originally from Sanandaj (Sina), in Iranian Kurdistan. With degrees in industrial engineering and management, he has worked at oil companies and held managerial positions at international firms.
  I love to show to the Western world that there are beauties in Kurdistan that they are not aware of. 

“I love to show to the Western world that there are beauties in Kurdistan that they are not aware of. My interchange/exchange of culture with them will also help enrich my culture,” he said.
“In the West, the picture portrayed of the Middle East is very politically-oriented, a muddy, distorted and reductive view. Kurdish culture is mainly unknown, since it’s not been presented as an independent identity, rather under geographical boundaries.”
Through halparke – a Kurdish dance – the group reveals an often ignored image of Kurdistan, one associated with glory and solidarity instead of misery and oppression. 
Mayn Zard has appeared at the Kurdish Festival in Mexico. It has performed at the Canadian Parliament, during a celebration marking Newroz.  
The dancers have also been invited to perform in the United States, at a Kurdish Youth  Festival and a Middle Eastern Conference in New York. There have also been invitations from Sweden, to perform for the World Kurdish Congress. But the invitations could not be honored for lack of funds.
Despite the empty pockets and meagre support he receives from the Kurdish community, Nosraty has refused to give up the independence of his group. Mayn Zard only battles cultural barriers and is not politically-oriented. 
“Mayn Zard has been founded based on the passion, hard work and expense of its founder and the genuine support and efforts of its members. It is fully independent and has no affiliation, whatsoever, to any person, group, or association.”  
Fascinated by the energy and solidarity exhibited through Kurdish dance, Nosraty travelled around Kurdistan as a teenager to learn the dances of various regions. 
  I ask myself, ‘what is my role in the world as a Kurd.’ Kurdishness is important to me because, despite our ancient history and rich culture, we are still ruled by others 

“In Toronto, I saw the necessity and felt the time was just right for following my dream. I guess I knew that I would eventually do dance training; at least I had imagined so.” Nosraty said.
But, what does Kurdishness mean to this devoted individual and why is it so important for him to present his culture to the world? 
“I ask myself, ‘what is my role in the world as a Kurd.’ Kurdishness is important to me because, despite our ancient history and rich culture, we are still ruled by others and in the direction of their profits. What we have is working for others and what we don’t have is used against us.”
Despite his achievements, Nosraty spoke to Rudaw about the many obstacles he has faced in pursuing his dream of providing outsiders a glimpse into the beauties of Kurdish culture.
“In Canada, nothing is given for free and we have to pay for everything from our own pocket,” he explained. “We have no Kurdish government or any organization that is concerned about Kurdish culture, and so there’s no support,” he added. 
“Not many of the Kurds in diaspora, for various reasons, are interested in their roots. This has limited the number of individuals attending the classes. Also, life in Canada is not easy and people are engaged in their own daily life. They hardly find free time to put in a dance class and stay committed to it. Having no money to pay the dancers for their time and efforts, you may imagine how difficult it is to lead a successful group.”

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Year After Deadly Classroom Fire, Another Heater Bursts at Kurdish Village in Iran

A Year After Deadly Classroom Fire, Another Heater Bursts at Kurdish Village in Iran
In December 2012, 37 Kurdish schoolgirls at the village of Shinabad near Piranshahr in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, were not so lucky when their class heater caught fire. Photo: ISNA
By Ava Homa
As the parents of some of the 37 schoolgirls who were burned in a classroom fire in a Kurdish village in Iran a year ago plead for officials to improve school safety, another kerosene heater exploded at another elementary school of another Kurdish village. 
  
Fortunately, there were no injuries from the explosion at the school in Kahrize Sheikhan, a village in Iran’s central Mahabad region with a population of 500. The school was immediately shut down and students were sent home.
In December 2012, 37 other Kurdish schoolgirls at the village of Shinabad near Piranshahr in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, were not so lucky when their class heater caught fire. Two of the girls, Seyran Yeganeh and Sarina Rasoulzadeh, lost their young lives. All of their other classmates were injured, some suffering chronic burns. 
Last week, their families gathered before the presidential palace in Tehran’s Pasteur Street, demanding that President Hassan Rouhani pay greater attention to the victims of unsafe schools.
The father of one of the victims, Nadia Saleh, complained that, “The hospital refuses to go ahead with my daughter’s surgery until I can provide the money they ask. The Ministry of Education had promised to pay for the costs but they have refused to do so.” 
  
Since last year, the authorities have been informed of the unsafe heating systems at schools in Kurdish villages. No steps have so far been taken to replace the hazardous system. 
Fariborz Esmaeilzadeh, the head of the provincial School Renovations body, announced that 600 classrooms in the province use kerosene heaters, and that “we lack the budget to purchase safe heating systems for these schools.” 
There have been public calls for the education minister to take responsibility for the fires and resign.
Shahram Nazeri, a popular Kurdish singer, organized a fund-rising concert in August and sent the proceeds for treatment of the schoolgirls, but that has not been enough. 
Lawyers say that the government must legally compensate the victims of the Shinabad fire, but that parents have been unwilling to file lawsuits because they are unaware of their rights or are content with official promises of compensation.


Friday, December 13, 2013

We Know the Pain of a Mother Whose Child has Disappeared

Mandela and Ocalan: Flowers for a Friend of the Kurds

Mandela and Ocalan: Flowers for a Friend of the Kurds
Flowers sent by Abdullah Ocalan to the funeral of the late South African leader Nelson Mandela. Photo by Christiane Amanpour.
By Ava Homa


For many Kurds, the late Nelson Mandela will be remembered for his principled stand against Turkey’s treatment of its large and oppressed Kurdish minority.
In 1992, when Mandela was still president of South Africa, he turned down the Ataturk Peace Prize that Turkey offered him for his lifelong fight for freedom. Pointing to the oppression of the Kurds, Mandela confronted the Turkish government for its hypocrisy and rejected the prize. 
This caused an outrage in Turkey. According to the AFP news agency, nationalist Turks called Mandela a “terrorist” because of his support for the Kurdish cause. Mandela was also named an “insolent African” who turned down a prestigious award.
“We know what it means to be oppressed in your own country. We know the pain of a mother whose child has disappeared… We know what it means to have your nationality and culture insulted… I am part of the Kurdish struggle. I am one of you.” These are some of the words Nelson Mandela uttered at a Kurdish Festival in Germany in September 1997.
Mandela also denounced the criminalization of the Kurdish cause and pointed out that at one point, he himself was labeled “a terrorist.” He went on to specifically condemn the war that the Turkish government wages on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as “a war against human rights and against the masses.”
It is, therefore, no surprise that from behind the bars, Abdullah Ocalan sent flowers as a tribute to the South African leader. 
Christiane Amanpour, a British-Iranian journalist and television host, currently working at ABC and CNN, posted the photo of the flowers on her Facebook page on Wednesday.

“Tribute to Mandela from behind bars. Saw these flowers from jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan for lying in state,” Amanpour wrote under the photo of the wreath sent by Ocalan.
The photo generated more than 3,500 likes and more than 1,000 comments by Kurds and Turks alike.
The Turkish nationals labeled Ocalan as a terrorist and attacked Amanpour for posting the photo, calling her a provocateur and supporter of terrorists.
“Do you support terrorism?” a Turkish Facebook user commented on the photo, addressing Amanpour. “Do you consider this an act of kindness from behind bars?”
Kurds also responded in their hundreds, applauding Amanpour for her photo of Ocalan’s flowers and likening the situation of Kurds in Turkey to that of South Africa’s black population under the white rule. 
“They (Ocalan and Mandela) both carried arms and fought when needed,” Alan Saeed, a Kurd, commented on Amanpour’s photo. “They both began a peace process when time for peace arrived. They were both sentenced to life in prison. They are in fact soul mates in the struggle for freedom. No one has any doubt that Ocalan will also arrive at victory, like Mandela did.”

Let Them Know They Are Not Forgotten

Let Them Know They Are Not Forgotten
opinion
By Ava Homa


The best gift for a political prisoner, according to former detainees, is a letter or postcard from a stranger, wishing them well. 
PEN, an international organization for writers, offers a list of captivated journalists and authors in prisons across the globe so people can send them a greeting letter and wish them health.
You can send a simple card to a Kurdish prisoner to provide a glimpse of hope. 
Mohammad Sediq Kaboudvand is a Kurdish journalist who has been held captive since July 1, 2007. He was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment. Editor of the banned weekly Payam-e mardom-e Kurdestan and chair of the Tehran-based Kurdish Human Rights Organization (RMMK), Kaboudvand was arrested at his place of work in Tehran by plain-clothed security officers.
Kaboudvand’s books, computers, photographs and personal documents were confiscated and he spent the first five months of his detention in solitary confinement. His health has deteriorated in prison due to ill-treatment and lack of medical care.  
PEN International and Amnesty International have urged Iranian authorities to release this human rights activist. Their pleas have so far remained unanswered and Kaboudvand is still in prison.
Your letters and postcards can be sent to “Mohammad Sediq Kaboudvand , Evin Prison, Tehran, Iran.” In order to make sure the prisoners receive the letter and that you will not cause them problems, please avoid making any religious or political comments. Make your greeting short and only wish him health and good spirit.
Adnan Hassanpour is another Kurdish writer, journalist and human rights activist who is jailed in Mariwan, the Kurdish city in Iran. He was arrested on January 25, 2007 and was sentenced to death. This sentence was reversed on September 2008 and he is now serving a 15-year prison term.
Saleh Nikbakht, one of his lawyers, told Reporters Without Borders that Hassanpour had been found guilty of “espionage” because he had allegedly “revealed the location of military sites and established contacts with the US foreign affairs ministry.”
Nikbakht added that: “This sentence is not only contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international conventions ratified by Iran, but it also contrary to Islamic law and the laws of the Islamic Republic.”   
Hassanpour’s cousin, environmentalist Abdolwahed (known as Hiwa) Butimar who worked with Hassanpour for the Kurdish-Persian weekly journal Aso (Horizon), had also been sentenced to death on the same charges. 
Adnan Hassanpour has spent seven years in prison, making him the longest-held prisoner among journalists. He is serving his sentence behind bars in Sanandaj prison, deprived of his legal right to furlough and without a single hour of release during these years, according to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. His physical condition is weakening due to the harsh conditions of his incarceration. 
Send your cards to Sanandaj Prison, Kurdistan, Iran and once again please refrain from making political or religious comments and only wish them good health/spirit. Provide a return address in case the prisoner can respond to your letters. 
For more information:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Another Star among Kurdish Women

Warzandegan was born in Sanandaj, in Kurdistan of Iran

Persheng Warzandegan: A Kurdish Artist , A Role Model and an Inspiration



Ava Homa
Persheng Warzandegan is a Kurdish artist who is better known among Europeans than Kurds. In 2013 she was the winner of both the jury prize and the public prize at Zutphen, Netherland during the Art Days.

In 1999 her ceramic sculptures were selected for “Keranova II, a new generation of ceramics,” a major event in the field of modern Dutch ceramic art. In 2005, the first of her series of 40 bronze sculptures, made in commission of the foundation Leendert Vriel, Enschede, was unveiled by Queen of the Netherlands, Beatrix.

Warzandegan was born in Sanandaj, Kurdistan to an artist family. His father, Ali Warzandegan, a well-known architecture and her mother Mariam Ovaisi, a woman who wove carpets with delicacy and passion, were Persheng’s original inspirations. “It was those beautiful colours of my mothers’ carpets and amazing shapes of my fathers’ buildings, which inspired me greatly. This inspiration reflects itself in my paintings, colour compositions and sculptures.”

When Persheng was at primary school, her teacher punished her for her painting. It wasn’t because she hadn’t done her assignment or had done it wrong. The problem with Persheng’s art was that it was too good. The teacher didn’t believe she had drawn the image herself without the help of an adult.

At age 12, however, Persheng won the first price for provincial juniors painting contest in Kurdistan and received the prize on the local television in Sanandaj. That’s probably a moment when the teacher shouted, “Cheating again.”

Warzandegan had exhibitions around Iran but left the country later to make a peaceful life for her children in Canada. She didn’t make it to her final destination and settled in Netherland in 1998. The independent and hardworking woman that Persheng was, she decided to build her life anew there.

It didn’t take long for her to notice the Dutch showed interest in her work. Feeling encouraged, Persheng decided to achieve official education in Art. When she won a scholarship, from UAF (Dutch Association for Foreign Students), Persheng started her studies at the Art Academy in Enschede (AKI). In five years she graduated from the disciplines Painting and Photography. 

“For my graduation exhibition I wanted to surprise my professors by making few ceramic sculptures. Since I have never had any lessons in ceramics, my professors wouldn’t believe I made those sculptures. It was the inspiration from my parents that taught me how to work with different materials. One year later I got an honour diploma in ceramic discipline.”

This Kurd woman makes different forms of craft: ceramics, paintings, bronze, necklace and brooches. “I like to work with different materials and it is important to learn different disciplines in the right sequence. For instance if I want to make a human sculpture, I have to know about the human anatomy and be able to draw it first. Later I also started designing necklaces and brooches with china, gold, silver and other high glazes. Making ceramic and bronze sculptures can be physically challenging.”

Throughout all her life: studying, working, and volunteering, Persheng has always relied on her two children’s love, the deep compassion she has for them and the kindness and care she receives in return. They have kept her going, fighting, struggling and creating. Sharmineh, her daughter and Daryoush, her son have been her muses.

Persheng’s story, however, is not only that of art and success. This brave and strong woman has suffered significantly in her life. Two years ago, she lost her daughter to a car accident. “Many of my works tell the story of how to make a more beautiful world, since in my perspective, to live as a human is the greatest art.” Sharmineh was only 28 when she passed away and this marked a significant change in Persheng’s life and art. “The subjects of my artworks are now about living a fair life and preserving the precious moments.”

“It doesn’t matter whether you are in Europe or elsewhere. It is your will, perseverance and originality, which count. Art is not something to learn from the scratch, but it’s the feeling about the world, things happening around the artist and his or her stories behind it.”

Persheng’s art is recognized and appreciated in Europe. Private and social organisations have invested in and commissioned her art. Thus her work has been exhibited inside and outside Europe and has been received warmly due to its originality and the influence from her background. In 2008 she was recognised as a “European Artist.” This is a recognition awarded to few selected artists per province. In addition, serious art fans, collectors and media follow the development of her work very closely. Even though she has been recognized in European media, only two Kurdish TV have ever interviewed her.

Despite her recognition, an artists’ life is usually financially challenging. “I work very hard, seven days a week and even when my works are not sold, I am still busy presenting and promoting them. On top of that I teach at schools and art centres for young and adult. Being an artist is not only about making art, I have to promote, expand and maintain network with galleries, arrange exhibitions and transportations and invitations, etc. And when all that is done and I have sold a work, I then have to pay up to 50 per cent to the gallery and pay the taxes. At the end I have to compensate the costs for the used material and equipment. Many people don’t realize that.”

In the year 2000 Persheng lost her home and studio, with all her works in it, to a fire disaster in the city. “After that until 2003 I worked really hard and continuously in a second studio. This studio was in an old school building, in which six other artists had also their studios. Again, unfortunately I lost my second studio along with my three years of work, this time due to a pyromaniac who lit the school in fire.”

“At that moment for the third time in my life I was totally broken and I had to start with my life and my work all over again. It was because of my love for my children and their love for me that I found strength and decided not to look back in the past, but look ahead. From that moment I shifted the style of my artworks from realistic to abstract. The stories and the subjects that can be found in my artworks are therefore linked to and influenced by the events in my life and by the people around me. My Kurdish background doesn’t play a political role, it rather expresses itself in my artwork in the same way as any other hard working woman from any other ethnicity.”

Despite the lack of support she receives from the Kurdish community, Persheng still feels the pressure of representation. “Being a Kurdish woman means to me that I have to do my best here, since I consider myself as a representative of Kurdistan. It is important that people have good hearts and be in balance with each other, no matter where they come from. That is why I see myself rather as a citizen of the world.”

“For many years women’s right was one of the main subjects of my paintings. This was greatly influenced by the position of women in many countries, especially from my background. As a woman it is very hard to make it and to survive as an artist. Since the age of 15, I found myself “in the ocean without knowing how to swim.” I tried to keep my head above the water and learned from good and bad things to shape my life in a better way. Instead of complaining and self-pity I wanted to become somebody in the society. Next to that the traditional thoughts and expectations of women to bring up children and to be a good housewife still rule and obstruct the development of women everywhere, even in the Western countries. Therefore as an artist I must have perseverance to present and promote my work and my love for it. Although I have to mention, that many thing that I have achieved was also thank to the support and the love that I have received from my children.”

At the end of our interview I asked Persheng if she has a message for the aspiring Kurdish artists. “It is wrong to become an artist only to make money. You have to love your work. If you have a hobby, make your work from it and give your 200%. In art the investment is not only the materials, but also it’s the time, thought and energy you put in it. Sometimes I work for two or more months on some of my works, while for a period of half year or even longer I didn’t sell anything. That’s why like many other artists who don’t have any external financial support I give art lessons, so that I can have a small income to invest in my materials and exhibitions. This way I can promote my name and my artwork to be perceived seriously. In the first few years I even taught and worked on voluntary basis.”

“Art is not only about nature, portraits and flowers. It’s about the message of life, composition and the power of it. Those are the stories, which the artist wants to express via the art.”

One important way for us Kurds to empower is to find the stars among us and support them. Persheng Warzandegan is a role model and an inspiration for us all. Her life, her perspective of life as well as her art are treasures for Kurds.

Monday, November 11, 2013

From Hell to Where?

From Hell to Where?

Ava Homa
Review of Mary Jo Leddy’s ‘Our Friendly Local Terrorist’

Suleyman Govan is a Kurd from Dersim who arrives in Canada in 1991. Dersim is the region of Seyit Riza, the Kurdish leader who in 1937 took the noose from his executioners and placed it on his own neck, denying the Turks the final act of control—the leader who confidently announced: “The Kurdish youth will revenge.” In Dersim more than 70,000 Kurds were massacred, justified by Turkey as the quelling of a rebellion of Kurdish “terrorists.”
Suleyman is a relative of Seyit Riza, an Alevi Kurd, one of the youth Riza hoped would rise and claim justice. After being imprisoned and tortured in Turkish prisons, Suleyman gives up on receiving justice in Turkey and migrates to Canada, to a promised land of peace and prosperity.
Upon his arrival, hunger, homelessness and loneliness are his companions. An engineer, Suleyman receives admission from McGill University to pursue his studies, to get his Canadian education, as if he is only eighteen. He has to start from zero.
'Our Friendly Local Terrorist'
‘Our Friendly Local Terrorist’
Sometimes, a person gets fed up with their situation.  Dismayed by its future and too restless to stay, they condense their lives into one or two suitcases and bid farewell to their land and people.  On departure, they leave behind a part of them, a small but significant part of their being and their identity. They do this to find a better life, in the hope of discovering happiness. Is it the same for a Kurd? What can this stateless group expect, people who have such a bitter  history, who have been betrayed by themselves and by others?
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service one day calls Suleyman in. At this point Goven’s request for permanent residency at Canada is pending and thus he cannot attend school. CSIS tells him he has to co-operate. They tell him he is a terrorist unless he agrees to spy on other Kurds.
“Now, Mr. Goven, you realise that if we find you credible and if you co-operate with us, we will recommend you for landed status.”
“Yes. I would like to be landed. I hope to get my engineering degree in Canada so I can work. I have been accepted to go to McGill but I must be landed.”
“We’ll see about that.”
The security officer took off his glasses and squinted. His mouth was tight and he spoke with a discernible French accent. “You are an engineer, Mr. Goven. Now that would qualify you to make bombs, wouldn’t it?”
Our Friendly Local Terrorist recounts Suleyman Goven’s fourteen years of struggle, his torments and his resilience. It is a rare insight into the dark side of the Canadian Government. Canada has become the second home for many immigrants and refugees, but at what price?
The book also sheds light on the Turkish government’s brutality and its ability to hide and deny its crimes. The government influences numerous European and North American countries, to the point that they can continue harassing Kurds long after their physical escape from hell.
The author of this courageous book is a Canadian woman, Mary Jo Leddy, professor of Theology at the University of Toronto and the founder and director of Romero House, a haven for refugees. She is also the author of eight other books. She has sent copies of her exposé to Members of Parliament because she loves Canada too much to stay silent when its leaders give in to power and the politics of injustice.
The narrator’s reasonable, honest and compassionate voice makes the bitter facts of Goven’s life more digestible and less painful. The book is filled with religious allusions. Goven’s tormentors are “The Nameless One,” “The Faceless One,” a reference to Genesis 32:24-27.
Even though Suleyman Goven’s life is saved and he can eventually, after a decade and half of struggle, prove his innocence, Leddy writes this book to raise awareness and prevent others from suffering.
The very title of the book is a smart irony. The dread of “terrorist” is contrasted with the words “local” and “friendly.” Leddy criticizes the arbitrary labelling of innocents as “terrorists,” the profiling, the unfounded accusation that creates tension rather than being a move towards peace.
Leddy sees Suleyman Goven and his persecutors as representatives of different aspects of human existence. She tries to remain what she describes as “life-size.” “To remain life-size in a time of being diminished by terror… is the moral struggle of our era and our world.”
Our Friendly Local Terrorist offers a rare insight into the dark side of the Canadian government and is a recommended read.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Enchanting Kurdish music

Gaziza   - Dleki shkaw

http://www.youtube.com/v/2uEf6JfAUEM?version=3&autohide=1&autoplay=1&autohide=1&feature=share&showinfo=1&attribution_tag=9hhoZ3HlJIioV7CNiv2eiQ

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Women Writers of the Kurdish Diaspora

Appearance part of UAlbany series, "Women of the Middle East"

Related Media

Kurdish ficiton writer Ava Homa
ALBANY, NY (10/09/2013)(readMedia)-- Two women writers of the Kurdish diaspora, Ava Homa, a nominee for the prestigious Frank O'Connor International Award for the art of the short story, and Kaziwa Salih, founder of the Canada Anti-Genocide Project, will discuss their work on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 4:15 p.m. in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, on the University at Albany uptown campus. The event is free and open to the public, and is part of the "Women of the Middle East Series" cosponsored by UAlbany's Office of International Education, New York State Writers Institute, International Academic Program, Global Institute for Health and Human Rights, Women's Studies, Center for Women in Government & Civil Society, and University Auxiliary Services.
As part of the "Women of the Middle East" series, the UAlbany Office of International Education and the New York State Writers Institute will present a reading and discussion by two Kurdish authors, Ava Homa and Kaziwa Salih.
Ava Homa is a Toronto-based Kurdish fiction writer and university lecturer. She was born and educated in Iran, where her father- for the crime of possessing banned books- endured both imprisonment and torture. Homa, who writes in English, is author of the short story collection, Echoes from the Other Land (2010), featuring tales of modern Iranian women in conflict with social and cultural norms. The book was nominated for the 2011 Frank O'Connor International Award, the world's largest monetary short story prize, sponsored by the city of Cork, Ireland. The book also came in sixth in the Reader's Choice contest of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) for the Giller Prize, Canada's leading short story prize.
The Toronto Quarterly said that Homa "has been regaled as Canada's answer to Raymond Carver, and rightly so. Her stories are incredibly succinct and breathtaking. Homa exquisitely portrays the lives of her female Iranian protagonists, who continually prove to be unafraid of taking hold of their own lives, unveiling an inner-strength that is not only surprising, but a lot more universal than might have been first expected."
Selected for PEN Canada's Writers-in-Exile Program, Homa also served as 2013 writer-in-residence at Vancouver's Kogawa House, a literary arts center based in the historic home of leading Japanese-Canadian author Joy Kogawa. Homa's writings have appeared in the Literary Review of Canada, Windsor Review, andToronto Star.
Kaziwa Salih, fiction and nonfiction writer, poet, journalist and activist from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, is the author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction published in the Kurdish language (none available in English translation). She and her family endured many years of persecution at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime. Her brother was murdered, and her father languished in prison during much of her youth. She herself was dismissed from a teacher's college because of her family's political affiliations.
Her short story collections include The Wisdom of Being a Gypsy (1998) and Those Unreadable Letters Before Death (2004). Nonfiction books include Kurdistan's Women on the Threshold of Globalization (2002) and The Knowledge of Feminism and Kurdish Society (2005). In the late 1990s, she served as editor-in-chief of two Kurdish language magazines, NVAR and NWEKAR. She is also the author of three children's books. She fled to Canada with two younger brothers in 2003. An outspoken human rights activist, Salih is the founder and chair of the Canada Anti-Genocide Project, and has served on the board of the United Nations Association in Canada (Toronto branch).
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online athttp://www.albany.edu/writers-inst. 

KurdTVCanada: Ava Homa the author of Echoes from the Other Land

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Upcoming Talk at New York State University

Women Writers of the Kurdish Diaspora, Ava Homa and Kaziwa Salih, to discuss their work, October 23, 2013

Appearance part of UAlbany series, "Women of the Middle East"


The source is HERE

Related Media

Kurdish ficiton writer Ava Homa
ALBANY, NY (10/09/2013)(readMedia)-- Two women writers of the Kurdish diaspora, Ava Homa, a nominee for the prestigious Frank O'Connor International Award for the art of the short story, and Kaziwa Salih, founder of the Canada Anti-Genocide Project, will discuss their work on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 4:15 p.m. in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, on the University at Albany uptown campus. The event is free and open to the public, and is part of the "Women of the Middle East Series" cosponsored by UAlbany's Office of International Education, New York State Writers Institute, International Academic Program, Global Institute for Health and Human Rights, Women's Studies, Center for Women in Government & Civil Society, and University Auxiliary Services.
As part of the "Women of the Middle East" series, the UAlbany Office of International Education and the New York State Writers Institute will present a reading and discussion by two Kurdish authors, Ava Homa and Kaziwa Salih.
Ava Homa is a Toronto-based Kurdish fiction writer and university lecturer. She was born and educated in Iran, where her father- for the crime of possessing banned books- endured both imprisonment and torture. Homa, who writes in English, is author of the short story collection, Echoes from the Other Land (2010), featuring tales of modern Iranian women in conflict with social and cultural norms. The book was nominated for the 2011 Frank O'Connor International Award, the world's largest monetary short story prize, sponsored by the city of Cork, Ireland. The book also came in sixth in the Reader's Choice contest of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) for the Giller Prize, Canada's leading short story prize.
The Toronto Quarterly said that Homa "has been regaled as Canada's answer to Raymond Carver, and rightly so. Her stories are incredibly succinct and breathtaking. Homa exquisitely portrays the lives of her female Iranian protagonists, who continually prove to be unafraid of taking hold of their own lives, unveiling an inner-strength that is not only surprising, but a lot more universal than might have been first expected."
Selected for PEN Canada's Writers-in-Exile Program, Homa also served as 2013 writer-in-residence at Vancouver's Kogawa House, a literary arts center based in the historic home of leading Japanese-Canadian author Joy Kogawa. Homa's writings have appeared in the Literary Review of Canada, Windsor Review, andToronto Star.
Kaziwa Salih, fiction and nonfiction writer, poet, journalist and activist from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, is the author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction published in the Kurdish language (none available in English translation). She and her family endured many years of persecution at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime. Her brother was murdered, and her father languished in prison during much of her youth. She herself was dismissed from a teacher's college because of her family's political affiliations.
Her short story collections include The Wisdom of Being a Gypsy (1998) and Those Unreadable Letters Before Death (2004). Nonfiction books include Kurdistan's Women on the Threshold of Globalization (2002) and The Knowledge of Feminism and Kurdish Society (2005). In the late 1990s, she served as editor-in-chief of two Kurdish language magazines, NVAR and NWEKAR. She is also the author of three children's books. She fled to Canada with two younger brothers in 2003. An outspoken human rights activist, Salih is the founder and chair of the Canada Anti-Genocide Project, and has served on the board of the United Nations Association in Canada (Toronto branch).
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online athttp://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"A Rose for Raha," a story by Ava Homa, published in Still anthology by Negative Press, London

This is from 2012 that I had forgotten to post here.

Q&A | Ava Homa

Ava HomaAVA HOMA LIVES IN TORONTO, CANADA. She is a Kurdish-Iranian-Canadian writer. Her collection of short stories, Echoes From the Other Land was nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Ava’s writings have appeared in various journals including the Toronto Quarterly,Windsor Review and the Kurdistan Tribune. She’s finishing work on a her first novel and teaches creative writing and English. For Still she wrote ‘A Rose For Raha’, a story about a Kurdish family trying to find their way in Canada.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Eastern Kurdistan (Iran) and my parents still live there. Being a Kurdish woman, I was stigmatised both for my gender and my ethnicity. Nevertheless, living in a collective culture, I’d received unconditional love from my family and close relatives. Something I really miss here. I entered Canada on a student visa six years ago.
How do you describe yourself: Canadian, Kurdish, Iranian?I have a hyphenated identity: I am Kurdish-Iranian-Canadian. The truth is that I have been exposed to all these cultures and have picked and chosen the best in each as much as I have been able to. The unconscious part of my brain has done its own selection without my consent.
Your story ‘A Rose For Raha’ is about a Kurdish family now living in the free world in Canada, but still not being able to be free. Is this based on your own experience? If not, where did the inspiration come from?Writing fiction means feeling for others and writing about them. My family never left Kurdistan, but I have observed that the dictatorship mentality lasts long after the dictator is gone. I have observed that victims of oppression can sometimes turn into victimisers without being aware of it.
Female Artists Dressing Room (Rose) by Roelof Bakker
Female Artists’ Dressing Room (Rose) by Roelof Bakker
You selected a photograph with a dried yellow rose. Is the rose significant for you or in Kurdish/Iranian culture?It was hard to choose between all the inspiring and beautiful photos, but something drew me towards this rose, not because of a significant cultural connotation, rather because of the sense of attractiveness mixed with exhaustion. That’s the sense this photo instilled in me.
Did you enjoy collaborating with an artist?It was my first experience and a lovely, stimulating one. I look forward to more such collaborations.
How did you get into writing?It was in me from a very young age. I completed my first manuscript at grade 5: an animal story illustrated by my immature drawing. I followed my instincts to write despite the infinite cultural/economical obstacles. Now, I am hooked on the joy of writing.
Who/what was your greatest influence?I am constantly inspired by great people. I can mention two examples: Leila Zana, the female Kurdish leader who was imprisoned by the government of Turkey for ten years but never lost her strength and spirituality. She gives me hope as to what extent humans can be resilient.
Bahman Ghobadi, the award-winning Kurdish writer and director of A Time for Drunken HorseTurtles Can Fly, Half Moon, and most recently Rhino Season. I believe he has served the Kurds in the best possible way. He is passionate, artistic, honest, talented, lovable, inspiring.
Your book of short stories, Echoes From the Other Land, explores the position of women in Iran. Are you active politically to improve women’s lives in Iran? Do you collaborate or work/write with women in Iran?
Iranian women live under horrific laws that openly discriminate against them. For example, based on the law, they cannot leave the country or get a job without their husband’s permission. Yet, they are highly educated, strong, resilient, and ambitious. We work with each other, we support each other, we help each other.
What’s the most important thing you have learnt from life?
No one can help me better than myself.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am editing my completed manuscript: a novel tentatively titled Many Cunning Passages.
Echoes From the Other Land

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