Depth and words

I recently experimented with a release of a small prose-poetry book. It doesn’t really have a genre and I was approached by a local publisher (they only publish Arabic books), so I was hesitant and didn’t think the book would receive any attention. Forget the Words is not as close to my heart as On Love and Loss which is still selling rather well on Amazon.

But this is not the point of this post. The book managed to reach a few people’s hearts, on a very intimate level. Firstly, my mother read and understood it, and she was able to see that the book was fragmented because I believe in fragments and inconsistencies. My mother is not one to enjoy English books, which reminds me of Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” – in which she asserts that as long as her mother could enjoy her work, then this means she can reach a wider audience.

I received feedback from people I hadn’t  met, sending me messages, emails, letting me know that the book spoke to them, that they were able to connect. Some were previous students of mine, others were new, and then there were those who had simply heard of the book by word of mouth. I am overwhelmed with the amount of citations on Twitter and Instagram! I type in #forget_the_words and random pictures come up with quotes from my book! It is, needless to say, an exhilarating feeling.

When I wrote the book, I was simply angry with words, with life, and I hurled the book at the world. I didn’t care for its success. I haven’t even shared it with all of my colleagues, it is not academic, not scholarly, not what I would term creative fiction. One colleague though, and a beautiful friend of mine, Janet, took the time to read it and reflect upon it. I think that’s what really got me- she actually did reflect on it. She didn’t read the book because I wanted her to read it (at least that’s not what it felt like) and she was able to make the links, the connections. She told me that the words took her to another place, that she was immersed within the dialogue and the symbolism, the metaphors I used. And that’s precisely it, I just hadn’t realized it. Janet helped me put it into words, and I’ll just borrow her analysis here: I wanted those who read it to feel as though the dialogue wasn’t mine, that the Sun and the Moon represented much more, and that human connection and depth is all we could ever live for. I seek depth everywhere. I seek depth in conversations, in friendships and relationships. Like Anais Nin once wrote: “I must be a mermaid, I have no fears of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”

So the book has given me a chance to connect with people on a deeper level. I am grateful to whatever entity is in charge, the Universe, the publisher who took a risk publishing in English rather than Arabic, my friends who read the book, readers who I never met, and those who took the time to think about the words, when I so blatantly asked them to ‘forget the words.’

  

   

       

Literary Madness

Literary Madness, my academic monograph, is now available on Amazon US and UK.

Here is the link for scholars of literature and disability studies:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Literary-Madness-British-Postcolonial-Bedouin/dp/1443897566/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474910925&sr=8-1&keywords=literary+madness+shahd

 

 

Considering Disability Journal

For disability scholars and writers, this is my first introduction to the journal as International Editor. Other well-known figures on our editorial board include Dr Tom Shakespeare, David Bolt, and others. 

Here is the link and please browse other articles as we worked so hard to encompass a variety of voices: 

https://cdjournal.scholasticahq.com/article/840-to-risk-and-to-represent-local-and-global-disability-in-context 

Love and Academia

Today someone reminded me of how difficult it was for me during my undergraduate days. My postgraduate days were extremely exhausting and very gloomy at times. There were many days where I thought of giving up on academia. There were times where I couldn’t hold a pen. And yet, despite the struggle, I managed. Today my papers fell out of my briefcase, everywhere, it was a total mess. And as a student of mine bent down to help me gather them, for that one moment, as I looked at her, I had a flashback of myself, as a student, struggling to carry my literature books and dragging myself to class. As we gathered the papers and I thanked her, my mind went back to the past.

It has been only two years since I got my PhD, October 2014. That day was a day where the clock stopped ticking, the viva seemed to go on forever, and I couldn’t bring myself to see the end of the tunnel. But at 3 pm that certain October day, I was finally who I wanted to be, and where I wanted to be. I rememebr being in shock for a few days after. And when I came home, I was met with endless love and celebration. 

People look at me today and assume it was an easy journey. Some people tell me I am too young to be a professor. Some tell me that I wasted years amongst books. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was never about the degree. It was simply about love. 

   
     

Semester Over

I have been teaching at the Arab Open University (Kuwait Branch) for about two years. I was also teaching there while I was a PhD candidate. It was more like an internship at the time, I was doing it mainly for the experience, and I learned so much during that time. I am extremely grateful to those who believed in me, especially Dr. Chekra Allani, the Head of the English Department at the time. When I was first interviewed for the job, Dr. Chekra was very supportive. She said that she had found a “star” in the field, and all I wanted was to make her proud. I was finalizing my PhD thesis at the time, teaching Shakespeare to undergraduates who struggled with Shakespeare’s inaccessibility, and attempting to do a good job, leave a mark somehow. And I think I did. I have resigned from AOU, moving elsewhere, starting a new chapter.
But before I “move on”, and I don’t believe we ever really move on, I have to write this post. Over the last few days, I let my students know that I was leaving. As always, it is difficult to say goodbye to them, to end this chapter. This week, during one of my lectures, I lost my voice. We tend to overdo it when we lecture, as the material is dense, and should be covered within a limited time. By the end of the day, I was completely exhausted, essentially dead, and left voiceless. As some of my friends and colleagues know, I struggle with a chronic disability, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and in general, my energy levels aren’t that great. Fatigue kicks in during the summer and heat aggravates my body, affecting even my ability to speak, to lecture. So on that particular day, I was exhausted, put my head down on my desk, and shed a tear or two. I felt like giving up, like I couldn’t keep doing this to myself, that it was too difficult to maintain a full-time job teaching. At the end of the semester, I am usually more than ready to hibernate forever.
And yet, it was only a day later, where my students sent me emails, tweets, messages, cards, everything you can think of – in which they expressed their gratitude, their appreciation, and how they have enjoyed the semester. I will always be grateful for this experience, this beautiful experience of working with amazing colleagues, and students who come to class because they really want an education, a second shot, a second chance at learning. A few students in particular will always stand out in my memory, and they were the ones who beautifully expressed these sentiments: