I am:

A son

A refugee

A student

A teacher

A reader

A thinker

A wander

A wonder

“I don’t decide to represent anything except myself. But that self is full of collective memory.”

~ Mahmoud Darwish

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Orientation at WHV: October 13, 2019 (MALE IN THE AREA)

Orientation at WHV: October 13, 2019 (MALE IN THE AREA)

            The sunny day felt frigid as the wind shifted the seasons. I arrived at the correctional facility and I was excited to enter. I waited in the lobby at 4:15pm. The lobby was cold, the sun that seeped through the high windows didn’t seem to warm up the area I was sitting in. The area was quiet, the water fountain in the lobby was loud, then the sound turned off and the only sound that echoed through the lobby was the sound of the gates that let the visitors in and out.

4:30: Mrs. S.H met us in the lobby, she instructed us to leave are belongings in a locker. The other volunteers and me were patted down by the first officer. We were escorted and asked to go through the metal detector and to take off our shoes and socks for a thorough check. We walked through to receive our PPD (Personal protection device) it’s a device for the volunteer’s safety. We walked through the facility and made it outside, the walk way was steady, the grass rippled as wind fluffed it. We walked towards the program building as we were greeted by the walking inmates. We walk into the building. I was introduced to one of the participants in the poetry workshop, Dorothy was gentle, she walked, counted the steps that she hasn’t taken yet. We were introduced to our point officer.

4:45: we were asked to sit in the room to watch a short film that expanded on procedures and guidelines in the prison. The video was a converted VHS video into a DVD disc. The video had the nostalgic static, ribbons of static noise that took over the screen. Shifting the antennas in order to find that quality. The video was much older than expected.

-Feathered bangs

-What looks like a crotched blazar that didn’t move with the body language?

-Static strips moving upwards on the screen

Finally, the video was over, 6:05pm came around and orientation was over. We walked toward the restroom for the inmates. We were instructed to shout out “MALE IN THE AREA” whenever walking past the area. I was by the officer and he told me about what happens in the facility.

“Like nothing I have seen before” seemed to be the following sentence after every description. He was pleasant, he was friendly with all the inmates and addressed them by “Mrs.” and “Ms.”. It was admirable, he treated them with a profound respect. 6:30 was approaching and I stayed behind to meet with Rob and Adam.

I felt comfortable; familiarity was the sense. The dynamic of the programs building didn’t feel like an inmate/prison setting. All of the inmates were treating it as any occupation, there were many roles in the building. Some did housekeeping, a few were escorting and getting the rooms ready for the evening programs. It was comforting to know that it wasn’t just a typical prison.

Preparation for OutReach #1

September 29th: Preparing for outreach (Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility)

            Sunday the 29th of September was gloomy. It’s actually my favorite weather. Driving to Ypsilanti I was anxious to meet with Rob, Adam and David.  We met at Cultivate, I enjoyed Cultivate. Mostly because it was a coffee shop that can hold more than ten people. I walked on from the soak of the heavy rain and I sat on a stool at 4:00pm. I waited for minutes before Rob’s voice took me out of the daydream, cultivate was playing Korean R&B music.  

            It was a good experience to sit with Eastern Legends, we sat around the picnic table as the rain continued outside. The coffee shop was slightly dimmed, and the perfect light with the natural light from the window was the perfect weather to read the poems of some of the inmates. I didn’t know what to expect from these workshops, and the nerves mixed with anxiousness clouded my mind from accepting the work. Adam came in with his leather bag and pulled out a laptop as we all did. The yellow manila folder was filled with composition paper of the work that had been worked on from the workshop. Each writer was as passionate as the next. Their words resonated. We were only required to scribe, and correct grammatical mistakes as well as recommend alternative words. I couldn’t help but to be involved in their pieces as I was trying to type the poems up. This process was fulfilling. I have not been to the prison yet, but knowing that the poems came from these workshops is nothing short of impressive. The subjects were the most satisfying. Subjects like connection, relationships and even the emotional capacity for death and loss was inspirational.

            I look forward to working with the women of WHV. To be able to have a glimpse of the capability of creating these pieces is exciting. The preparation is one of the components that I am looking forward to, I deal with high school students and I am curious to learn how to interact and be able to teach adults. I also look forward to working with the Eastern alumni, it’s inspiring to hear more about their successes after achieving their MFA’s in creative writing. It makes me just that much hopeful. I am glad I am in this program.

Five on Fiction

September 14, 2019

            That Saturday I woke in a daze; I woke up to not only a break of from the long week but early. Who knew sleeping in could be so difficult?

            I finished all of my errands and made my way down to Eastern, I looked forward to the Five on Fiction event because I was excited to listen to Amanda Goldblatt speak on her work Hard Mouth. The fictional story was not what I am used to, and for that I think I enjoyed it. Usually I love reading about a character with abilities or some sort of floating anything (Outside of a plane). The writers were poised and articulate. They were confident, and you could tell just by listening to their passionate words about all the things they have become passionate about. Words!

Words, to create images and then you are forced to relate to the character/characters. There wouldn’t be a connection if you don’t feel inclined to do that. I enjoyed listening to the authors speak. I have always been less inclined from learning too much about the writer, in fact I try to stay away from any information concerning the author just because I don’t want to know that it relates to them. It might take away from my own position on it.

            I always enjoyed fiction writing, it’s a style that I want to be challenged with. I am always running toward and away from poetry. I am inspired to indulge in fiction, I want to create something out of nothing and be able to allow it to make sense to a reader.

(Being a pen and ink in pages…I am not sure what material the pages are made from)

I wrote that down during the five on fiction event. There was a feeling of comfort that eased the room. Reading Amanda’s work and hearing her speak about it, was rewarding. It makes me feel better that there is no pressure to writing a lengthy piece of work. The longest piece I have written was a short story comprised of 27 pages (haha). I am not sure if it’s patience or just the reason to keep going with the flow of writing that prevents me from doing so. All in all, I enjoyed the five on fiction event. I was glad to be in the same room with Eastern legends.

Conflict is Not Abuse: Overstating harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair

Date: September 24, 2019


            The day was pleasant, a warm evening where the sun hid in the west. I had a good feeling about the reading/discussion. She mentioned an array of topics that no one expands upon. Like the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. This conflict is always overlooked in the media, and if it is exposed it is always one-sided. Coming from a home where there is Arabic cable, news sources never sensor the conflict and how brutal it actually is. News sources to be credible should always reveal the obligatory truth. I anticipated this topic just because it has always been a topic that comes up frequently. Sarah Schulman is an eloquent authentic human being. She was able to use her own experiences, and her acceptance of what is around her to form her outlook now. I especially connected with her bringing up the personal experience during her visit to Palestine. Acceptance and allowing, I enjoyed her exposure, and respected her stance on being a human being at the end of any event or occurrence. In her reading I valued the idea of “allowing” and her position on allowing during the answers to the questions posed. “Allowing” has been a subject I have been trying to grasp in my writing. It relates mental health and being able to willingly accept whatever conflict someone internally has to go through.

            I was hoping she would expand on chapter six; it was heavily related to the mental state and the psychological frames that could have allowed for the foundation of the other chapters, perhaps. Overall, I enjoyed the night, I felt if it was longer the discussion could have continued after the few hours. There were many instances where the book resonated with the reader and those that were there to listen. To shape a piece of writing in the segments of political and social occurrences was relatable and dignified. The writing felt like a conversation, or even a thinking out loud moment. The wording and ideology behind the topics were exemplary. To be able to advise with personal and structural writing is always impressive.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

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