Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press (HBKU Press) has renewed its partnership with Art Omi (NY, USA) to sponsor one aspiring Arabic writer to participate in the HBKU Press & Art Omi: 2021 Writer’s Residency.
One Arabic writer will be selected to participate in the annual residency held in Ghent, New York. The retreat will provide the chosen writer with the space and time away from daily pressures to write and create at the Art Omi residences amidst the backdrop of 300 acres of rolling farmland with spectacular views of the Catskills and Hudson River Valley. There will also be opportunities to connect with other literary talents from around the world as well as publishers from the United States, who participate in the retreat as visiting experts.
“Despite the current global challenges, HBKU Press is committed to serving the wider community by continuing to provide sponsorship opportunities like the HBKU Press & Art Omi: 2021 Writer’s Residency,” explains Bachar Chebaro, Executive Director of Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press. “This is the perfect platform for Arabic writers to highlight their work in a global context by engaging in a program that aims to support and promote literary talents from the region.”
During the retreat, residents are encouraged to select one written piece to focus on for the duration of the residency. Daytime is reserved for writing and quiet activities, while evenings are more communal. Noted editors, agents and book scouts are invited to share dinner and conversation on both creative and practical subjects, offering insight into the workings of the publishing industry, and introductions to some of its key professionals.
"Art Omi is honored to renew its collaboration with HBKU Press. Particularly in these uncertain times of a global pandemic, we believe it is increasingly important to find more ways to support artistic expression across borders,” explains DW Gibson, Director of Art Omi: Writers. “Our programming is strengthened by including a literary voice from the Arab world and we hope this will be a partnership that will last for years to come."
This coming year’s edition has been modified to take into consideration all travel and safety precautions as set out by the State of New York.
“Our organization will remain fluid to the requirements of our local, state and federal government with regards to safety protocols,” explains Gibson of the precautions in place to ensure residents’ safety. “In fact, our safety requirements were designed in collaboration with our county health officials and we have refitted all of our indoor common areas to adapt to them and to ensure the safety of all participating residents.”
For instance, the dining hall where residents share communal meals now has individualized tables, spaced six feet apart, so that people can dine in the same space and still maintain distance. There is also the added option of outdoor seating so that meals can be shared outside when weather allows.
In fact, residents are encouraged to do as much socializing and gathering outside when the weather permits, which is where the 300-acre campus comes into play, as there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the outdoors together. Masks are required whenever people need to be in close proximity to each other indoors.
“We are also pursuing virtual visits from publishing professionals when it is not possible for them to physically visit,” continues Gibson. “Also, a staff member with 20+ years of publishing experience remains ‘on call’ in our library, twice a week, so residents can arrange meetings with her to talk about their career and whatever help they might be looking for when it comes to making connections to U.S. readers and publishers.
“We anticipate – hope – that some of the restrictions will be lifted in the spring of 2021 and even more so for the fall of 2021 to accommodate residents who will be joining us from overseas.”
The program has operated with these measures throughout the pandemic and with success.
This collaboration reflects the spirit of cultural exchange that is essential to both HBKU Press’ and Art Omi’s mission. Also, the residency in 2021 is one of the key ways that HBKU Press has aligned with the 2021 Year of Culture: Qatar – USA.
HBKU Press has opened its application for the residency program on its website. This opportunity is open to all writers, though preference is given to mid-career writers. Applicants must have an intermediate grasp of the English language as the residency and its workshops are all in English. A full application package includes the application (found on hbkupress.com), statement of purpose (1000 words), and CV to be submitted in English; and a writing sample (5000 words) that can be in Arabic. Only completed applications will be considered.
For more details on the requirements, terms and conditions, and to apply for the residency, please visit hbkupress.com. The deadline for the application is 15 December 2020. HBKU Press will announce the shortlist of finalists on 25 December 2020, and one finalist who will attend the retreat will be announced on 15 January 2021.