RAWI (Radius of Arab American Writers)

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RAWI (Radius of Arab American Writers) is a national organization that provides mentoring, community, and support for Arab American writers and those with roots in the Arabic speaking world and the diaspora.[1] It stands for The Radius of Arab American Writers and its acronym, RAWI, means “storyteller” in Arabic.[2]


RAWI was founded in 1992 by journalist and anthropologist Barbara Nimri Aziz. It began as a seven-person group of writers that met in Washington, D.C. Today, RAWI has nearly 125 writers, artists, and journalists all over the world, from the United States to the United Arab Emirates.[3]

“I hope that RAWI can be a solace and provide its members and the Arab American literary community support and a sense of belonging and connection and resistance," Randa Jarrar, the President of RAWI, says.[3]


Every other year, RAWI puts on a conference for Arab American writers, artists, and scholars, which features readings, panels, workshops, and roundtables.[4] The 2016 conference featured a panel discussing the challenges that Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment presented for Arab American writers.[2] The June 2018 conference was in Houston, Texas, and featured panels and readings on Performing Images of the Body, an Artist Book Workshop, Queering Language, and readings featuring Marwa Helal, Randa Jarrar, Laila Lalami, Jess Rizkallah, and Zaina Alsous.[4]

They advocated for the first-ever Arab American Caucus at AWP.[3]

RAWI cosponsors the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize, an award given for a first or second book of poetry by a poet of Arab Heritage.[3] Jess Rizkallah's the magic my body becomes was the inaugural winner, published in the fall of 2017.[2]

Previous RAWI conferences were organized in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, and 2014. Participants in previous conferences included Naomi Shihab Nye, Moha Kahf, Lawrence Joseph, D. H. Melhem, Hayan Charara, Fadhil Al-Azzawi, Susan Muaddi Darraj, Randa Jarrar, Philip Metres, Laila Halaby, Deema Shehabi, Hisham Matar, Fadia Faqir, Marilyn Nelson, and Marilyn Hacker.

Notable Members[edit]

  • Etel Adnan, critical acclaimed poet and visual artist.
  • Naomi Shihab Nye, National Book Award finalist; Chancellor, Academy of American Poets.
  • Lawrence Joseph, critically acclaimed poet.
  • Diana Abu Jaber, Novelist.
  • Khaled Mattawa, poet and translator, MacArthur Fellow; Chancellor, Academy of American Poets.
  • Rabih Alameddine, National Book Award finalist.
  • Laila Lalami, Pulitzer Prize finalist.
  • Steven Salaita, Essayist and scholar.
  • Moha Kahf, Poet, novelist and scholar.
  • Fady Joudah, poet and translator, winner of Yale Prize for Younger Poets.
  • Suhair Hammad, Poet.
  • Philip Metres, poet and translator, Lannan Foundation Fellowship award.
  • Susan Muaddi Darraj, fiction writer, winner of United States Artist Fellowship.
  • Hala Alyan,Poet and fiction writer.
  • Hayan Charara, Poet and Anthologist.
  • Natalie Handal, Poet and anthologist.
  • Pauline Kaldas, Poet, fiction writer and anthologist.
  • Randa Jarrar, Novelist.
  • Glen Shaheen, Poet, winner of the Starett Prize.
  • Deema Shehabi, Poet.


  1. ^ "RAWI". RAWI. Retrieved 2019-05-05.
  2. ^ a b c "The Storytellers: Arab-American Writers Have Something to Say". blog.pshares.org. Retrieved 2019-05-05.
  3. ^ a b c d "The Radius of Arab American Writers". Poets & Writers. 2017-08-16. Retrieved 2019-05-05.
  4. ^ a b "The RAWI Conference 2018". RAWI. 2016-06-10. Retrieved 2019-05-05.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/etel-adnan https://poets.org/poet/naomi-shihab-nye https://poets.org/poet/lawrence-joseph