I’m starting a new segment on my blog titled “Notebook,” where I will write about my life. I’ll update you with my experiences, thoughts, and feelings, and (most likely) pictures and videos of my cats. I have two: the vain Lady Susana Montgomery and the naughty Percy Bysshe Shelly.
But first, a little introduction in case you’re new.
I’m Nada Faris, a Kuwaiti writer and performance poet known as “Kuwait’s Finest.”
I have always loved both writing and performing. When I was younger, I would write plays, lead rehearsals and put on shows for my aunts and uncles at gatherings.
I grew up reading mostly young adult fiction. The first “literary” book I read was Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. My Computer Studies teacher chose it when he selected me for an award (maybe he got tired of hearing about Sweet Valley High and The Animorphs). He included another book: Learn HTML in a Weekend, which is the reason I am able to tinker with my website every so often.
That’s another thing I do. I tend to play with my website’s design a lot; however, my best friend just made me promise not to do that. She wants me to focus my energy on writing. So… this is why I’ve come up with this segment.
INTRODUCTION TO “LITERATURE”
My real introduction to “literature” came about when I transferred from the College of Engineering to the College of Arts. I had been reading Anne Rice’s series, The Vampire Chronicles, when my English professor intervened.
“Read this. Report, tomorrow.”
“For me? Or for everyone?”
“Just you. Tomorrow.”
He gave me Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which I read that same day.
After Dracula, he suggested other books, and by the end of the semester, he had me reading Jane Austen, Shakespeare and Milton.
I now reread Paradise Lost every few years, always in a loud brooding voice on a full moon (preferably the bloody kind).
ON FINDING MY PURPOSE
Needless to say, I transferred to the College of Arts where I majored in English Language and Literature. My friends and I hosted the first “English Day” event, where students showcased their talents in poetry, plays, filmmaking, research writing, music and art. I participated in the first five annual events. I shared (and won awards) for my poetry and plays and I hosted the 4th and 5th English Days.
It was during that time that I developed the desire to transform society using literature and the arts, so I designed a 10-year plan to help me gain the knowledge and skills to accomplish that goal.
MY FIRST PUBLICATION
My first publication appeared in the form of a story in six-sentences that was published on a blog. This was followed by articles and interviews with authors in local magazines and newspapers, serialized fiction (just so I can feel like Charles Dickens!), and then, of course, spoken-word poetry.
ON USING ENGLISH
My focus has been the English language: what it means for someone like me, an Arab, specifically, a Kuwaiti, and how it would help or hinder creative self-expression.
ON ANGLOWAITI LITERATURE
I published, performed, and lectured from 2009-2015 about the subject. If you’re familiar with my work, then you might have come across my self-published books over the years, which are experiments in both literary theory and modern technology. These books are now out of print. They served their purpose: namely, to enable me to gather and nurture an Anglowaiti group of writers across age, race, and interests, as well as a diverse audience that understands and appreciates the work we do, and the stories we share. For seven years, friends and I have experimented with various literary forms, mixing and matching genres, examining the limits and benefits of the new media, and offering our time and services for the love of the arts.
MY FIRST “INTERNATIONAL” BOOK
I am thrilled to announce that my first internationally published book, Fountain of Youth, a collection of poems and vignettes, is the 2016 Vine Leaves Vignette Collection Award Semi-Finalist, and is available from Vine Leaves Press, Melbourne, Australia.
I am also an Honorary Fellow in Writing at Iowa University’s International Writing Program (IWP), USA. In 2015, I became a member of the board of trustees for Kuwait’s Cultural Circle Prize for the Arabic Short Story (Almultaqa), the Arab world’s first international award for short story collections in Arabic in 2015-2017. My article “Every Child Deserves a Home: Zeina Al-Sultan Unveils the Truths Behind Adoption in Kuwait” won en.v earth’s Voice of Success program in 2012. And I have won many spoken-word poetry competitions in Kuwait. In 2016, I wrote and performed a poem for TEDxAl-Shuwaikh, which was hosted by Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR). And in the following year (in 2017), I presented as a speaker in two TEDx events: TEDxAlShuwaikh’s Sparks! which took place at Jaber Al-Ahmad’s Cultural Center (JAAC) in Kuwait, and TEDxCUD’s Inspiring Minds,Transforming Lives which was hosted by The Canadian University of Dubai in The United Arab Emirates.
I also won a MENA Salam fellowship from World Peace Initiative Foundation’s Peace Revolution to meditate with Buddhist monks in Turkey.
PUBLICATIONS & PERFORMANCES
My fiction, nonfiction and poetry have been published in The Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction, Economic and Political Weekly, Fanack Chronicle of the Middle East & North Africa, The Operating System, Sukoon, The Indianola Review, and more. I have performed at Busboys and Poets, Washington DC, USA, The Feminist Union, Iowa, USA, The Mosaic Rooms, London, UK, and all over Kuwait.
YOUNG ADULT (more on that soon!)
I also write for young adults and children.
And I recently started translating from Arabic into English. I worked with Kuwaiti champion fencer, Balsam Al-Ayoub, who focuses on gender equality and improving the quality of sports and athleticism in the country. I translated the important documentary Between Hope and Pain that tells the story of the Kuwaiti players who participated in the Olympics under the IOC flag as independent players, because Kuwait was banned. I also provide English translations for major events, such as her Be Strong campaign.
STAY IN TOUCH
Welcome to my Notebook in which I write about my life and work, and whatever happens around the world. You can comment below or send me private inquiries via my contact form. You can invite me to your events or simply recommend books to read.
I also look forward to connecting with you across my social media platform.
But most of all, I’d love to send you exclusive content and updates through my Readers List. Find out what you get when you do.