February 17, 2001, 8 pm
& Al Jadid*
Poets of Exile, War and Memory
an evening of spoken word and music of the Levantine world, featuring the lyrical ud and violin of Nabil Azzam and visiting poet & translator Ammiel Alcalay with Los Angeles' own Majid Naficy
followed by reception with the artists!
tickets only $7
at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center
681 Venice Blvd., Venice, a few blocks west of
Lincoln Blvd. Call (310) 822-3006.
for interviews with the artists call
Ivri-NASAWI, (323) 650-3157
This evening has been conceived by the directors of Beyond Baroque
and Ivri-NASAWI, with support from the editor of Al Jadid, and reflects
our dedication to celebrate a different Middle East---not the one of divisions and conflicts as much as the Middle East which once was and can be again: a cooperative, pluralistic society, the world of the Levant, where we are all multiple, complex people, the sum of many parts, and cannot be separated into opposing entities for the purposes of ideology or gain. This event in effect is the first of many devoted to the Levant and inaugurates our future Levantine Center for Sephardic and Middle Eastern Cultures in Los Angeles, a center open to everyone. Marhaba!
Jordan Elgrably, director, Ivri-NASAWI
The evening opens with Arab and Sephardic music by Nabil Azzam.Born in Nazareth to a musical family, Azzam's parents and five children played musical instruments, and formed a family septet. Nabil Azzam's first training in music began in Nazareth with local teachers. He soon found himself studying with sought-after teachers at the Rubin Conservatory of Music in Haifa. By the time Nabil Azzam graduated from high school he had decided to pursue a professional career in music. He received a B.A. from Tel Aviv University in 1974, a B. Mus. from the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University in 1976, an M.A. from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1982, and a doctorate from UCLA in 1989. The musical life of Dr. Azzam is a good and successful example of accomplishment of two musical systems---the European classical and the Middle Eastern. Azzam's combination of the two systems is apparent in his career as a violinist, ud player, conductor and composer. He is also a trained musicologist and ethnomusicologist, and a member of music societies worldwide. Throughout his career he has received many rewards. In the U.S., Azzam has performed and recorded numerous albums. In 1987, the late Egytian composer Abd al-Wahhab composed for Nabil Azzam a dedicatory piece for violin and orchestra. Recently, he took part in the peace efforts of the Middle East by participating in a number of concerts and other performances, sharing the stage with Israeli and Jewish musicians. President Clinton, PA Chairman Arafat and Mrs. Rubin acknowledged his peace efforts by autographing his violin, an instrument dedicated to peace in the Middle East and in the world. Nabil Azzam has performed with the cross-cultural fusion group Hamsa, and a solo artist in many American venues. Currently he devotes much of his time to the debut concert of MESTO (an acronym for Multi-Ethnic Star Orchestra) which he recently established in Los Angeles. Specializing in a variety of ethnic compositions from around the world, MESTO will debut in L.A. on March 11 featuring the music of the Middle East. (For further info contact 323/650-3157.)Ammiel Alcalay has become among the most exemplary US writers of his generation. Poet (the cairo notebooks; A Masque in the Form of a Cento), activist, widely-recognized scholar and essayist (After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture; Memories of Our Future: Selected Essays), anthologist (Keys to the Garden: New Israeli Writing), and prolific translator from Serbo-Croatian, Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish?his recent work has been focused particularly on Bosnia and the Middle East. His work-in-progress includes the book From the Warring Factions. One of the original members of the East for Peace movement and NGO in Israel in the 1980s, he has also done a variety of human rights work for Amnesty International, the Palestine Human Rights Data Base and other organizations. Along with Jordan Elgrably, Ruth Behar and Victor Perera, he is one of the co-founders of IVRI-Nasawi, the New Association of Sephardi/Mizrahi Writers International. Currently a visiting scholar at Stanford University, Mr. Alcalay lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches at Queens College, CUNY.Spoken word follows withAmmiel Alcalay.
"Few contemporary intellectuals can boast of as diverse a range of skills as Ammiel Alcalay. His work is cosmopolitan in the best sense: in an epoch of superficial globalism his approach to the cultures he deals with is always rigorous, always meticulously respectful of particularities and differences. There is no one better qualified to explore the meaning of todayís 'culture wars,' locally and globally.""Amitav Ghosh
Spoken word continues and concludes with Majid Naficy. Majid Naficywas born in Iran in 1953. His first collection of poems in Persian, In theTiger's Skin, waspublished in 1969. A year later his book Poetry As A Structure appeared, and in 1971 he wrote a children's book, The Secret of Words,which won an award in Iran. In the '70s, Naficy was politically active against the Shah Reza Pahlavi's regime; after the 1979 Revolution, the new regime began to suppress the opposition, and many people, including his first wife, Ezzat Tabâ'eyân and brother Sa'id were executed. He fled Iran in 1983 and spent a year and a half in Turkey and France, after which he settled with his son Azâd in Los Angeles. His more recent poetry volumes include AftertheSilence,South of the Border and Poems of Venice;he's also published a book of essays entitled In Search of Joy: Male-Dominated, Death-Oriented Culture in Iran.All of these works were published in Farsi. Majid Naficy holds his doctorate in Near Eastern Cultures and Languages from UCLA and is currently the co-editor of Daftarhâ-ye Shanbeh,a Persian literary journal published in Los Angeles. His most recent work is Muddy Shoes,from which these poems have been excerpted with permission. In a place that cannot tend to memory or worldliness, and in a world riven by conflict and misunderstanding, to publish a book by a local poet dedicated to culture and understanding is a pleasure...Majid Naficy, having come like so many from abroad, keeps his past and otherness discrete, not merely for the lessons they might hold out, but to shape the tensional space of a present neither rolled over, nor collapsed, by the forces of past and future. The poetry of Muddy Shoes is born of great suffering yet affirms deep dignity and respect for that wider experience of the world, brought here through danger and carved out of solitude and reflection. Tragically, we are seldom allowed to see such things, blocked from sensing the reality of other countries, knowledges, forms of speech; when these are allowed in, or come in, they are, without recourse, smoothed out, conquered if you will, without mercy. Naficy, as a poet of Los Angeles, suggests a new route, and this one to freedom. Fred Dewey, director, Beyond Baroque
Read about Majid Naficy in the L.A. Weekly
Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center has been supporting local artists and writers and hosting poetry and prose programs for many years. Activities include a bookstore and publishing operations in addition to readings. Visit Beyond Baroque or call
Ivri-NASAWI was founded to support Sephardi/Mizrahi artists and writers and to foster public understanding of these cultures in 1996. Activities include salons, concerts, readings, film festivals and more. Visit Ivri-NASAWI or call (310) 822-3006
Al Jadid is a quarterly review and record of Arab culture, which was launched in 1995 by editor and publisher Elie Chalala. It is rich with original essays, features, book reviews, interviews, poetry, and much more. The new issue contains a review of Ammiel Alcalay's most recent book. Visit Al Jadid or call