a mural project including life-size portraits of all the greats
The Levantine Cultural Center has unveiled The HEROES OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA mural initiative, which proposes to create a large mural depicting cultural icons such as Rumi, Khalil Gibran, Fairuz, Naguib Mahfouz and other poets, writers, filmmakers, musicians and artists who are symbols of peace through the arts.
"A truly incredible story," says Ira Glass of This American Life. Kirk Johnson is the author of To Be a Friend Is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind, a moving, hard-hitting book about the plight of Iraqis who worked—often as interpreters—with the US Army and its affiliates. A memoir and a call to action, the book details his work in Iraq and his struggle to rescue the Iraqis who risked their lives to help rebuild the country, only to be branded collaborators and marked for assassination after being abandoned by the US.
Writing in the Boston Globe, Rayyan Al-Shawaf notes, "Part memoir, part impassioned plea, Johnson's book traces his experiences in Iraq, his personal breakdown, and his struggle to rescue the legions of young, idealistic Iraqis left behind by US administrations plagued by post-9/11 paranoia and gridlock. Because militants continue to kill such people despite the US withdrawal, it is difficult to imagine a book more urgent than this."
Johnson will discuss his book and his organization, The List Project to resettle Iraqi allies. This event is a benefit for the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Levantine Cultural Center, two nonprofits that champion literacy. More.
Limited seating for this long-running and inspired comedy show—come enjoy a healthy dose of comic relief, laugh about life and the Middle East with one of L.A's hottest comedy troupes, the Sultans of Satire, in a special performance featuring headliner Tehran SoParvaz. Hosted by Sheno Khal, this show features Paul Elia, Nasry Malak, Zara Mizrahi and Eman Morgan.
The Levantine Cultural Center presents WE ARE IRAQIS, a literary and music tribute for Iraqis and their friends devoted to the beauty of Iraq's culture, in memory of Sufi music maestro Saadoun Al-Bayati, who left earth on July 25, 2013. Authors/editors/contributors of three new or recent books will perform readings. Deborah Al-Najjar and a designated actor (TBA) will introduce us to the anthology We Are Iraqis, while poets Dima Hilal and Sholeh Wolpé will read from the anthology Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here; and novelist Leslie Cockburn will present her exciting new novel, Baghdad Solitaire. Refreshments will be provided and a live musical tribute to Saadoun Al-Bayati will follow the readings. All welcome, but space limited and reservations are strongly suggested, 323.413.2001. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
The Levantine Cultural Center would like to thank and acknowledge the support of Dr. Yasin Al-Khalesi, Barbara Al-Bayati, and Poets & Writers, without whom WE ARE IRAQIS would not be possible.
Can you believe it?!
We are just starting our 12th year serving greater Los Angeles. Don Heckman wrote the first LA Times article about us, positively reviewing our first public program, in a Calendar review published June 25, 2001. (We received another thumbs-up review in December 2001 by theatre critic Don Shirley and many more LA Times articles since.)
On March 5, 2007 a massive car bomb was detonated on Baghdad's al-Mutanabbi Street—for centuries the heart of Baghdad's intellectual and literary community—killing 30 and injuring 100. On Tuesday, March 5, New Roads School will host a poetry reading, involving both professional poets and New Roads High School students, to mark the sixth anniversary of the bombing that decimated "the street of booksellers" and its bookstores, outdoor book stalls, small print shops, and cafes. Poets participating in the reading include Tania Baban, Jordan Elgrably, Majid Naficy, Jim Natal, and Janet Sternburg—all contributors to Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, a new anthology of poetry written in response to the attack.
A selection of letterpress broadsides from the internationally-touring show, Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here will be displayed in conjunction with the New Roads reading. The full show consists of 130 broadsides—one for each victim of the—all of which were created as collaborations among artists, poets, and writers responding to an international call put out by San Francisco bookseller Beau Beausoleil, the project's founder and guiding force.
In addition to the reading at New Roads School, al-Mutanabbi Street reading events are being held in Washington D.C., Boston, San Francisco, and in the U.K to commemorate the anniversary.
Deconstructing stereotypes: Jack G. Shaheen remembers 40 years
of commitment to positive Arab and US
understanding in evening lecture
[Monday December 10, 2012] On Wednesday December 19th, The Levantine Cultural Center presents honored media critic and film scholar Dr. Jack G. Shaheen in an intimate discussion and forum on misleading stereotypes based on Hollywood's negative portrayal of Arabs. Shaheen will be discussing his life-long commitment to illuminate social justice, with insights into the highs and lows of his 40-year quest, including his mission to reveal and terminate these damaging Arab and Muslim stigmas.
By Dick Platkin
The other night I happened to catch a screening of the documentary The Suffering Grasses at the Levantine Cultural Center. The 1-hr film directed by Iara Lee (Cultures of Resistance) primarily reveals the Syrian civil war from the viewpoint of non-government forces, including the Free Syrian Army. A major point of the documentary is that Syrian civilians, particularly children and women, have suffered the most during this armed conflict, largely at the hands of the Assad regime.