Hustlers like Hosseini

As students of writing, we are often given opportunities to learn about writers we may not have ever heard about. Ones with styles unique to our own, who can give us new insight into how we may present our writing to the world or how to improve our own writing techniques. For most of us Eagles, it’s likely that we’ve often been instructed to read, study, and analyze the writings of mainly European or American writers. Although there are numerous talented writers that are American or European, it is best to not forget that writing and writers are just as diverse as the populations of the earth, meaning that we ought not to limit ourselves in our studies. The field of writing is open for all writers of any nation, of any descent.  

Meet, for example, novelist and physician Khaled Hosseini. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Hosseini and his family were quite accustomed to the refugee life. When Hosseini was eleven years old, he and his family were forced to relocated to France because their home-land was invaded. Four years later, because they were still unable to return to Kabul, Hosseini’s family applied for and were granted political asylum in the United States, and shortly after were given citizenship.

While Hosseini was studying medicine in the United States, he also worked on his first novel, The Kite Runner, a work of fiction which centers around the life of an adult Afghan refugee who tries to heal from the trauma he experienced as a child. It centers around the themes of the violence and warfare; its effects on family and children; and how those affected can learn to accept and recover from the violence. Hosseini, however, was quite unaware at the time that his first novel would become an international success, becoming available in over sixty countries, and remaining on the bestseller list of his own country for well-over a year. When being interviewed about what aspiring (and veteran) writers can do to improve their craft, he presented us all with his simple, but worthwhile advice:

“Read a lot. Read new authors and established ones, read people whose work is in the same vein as yours and those whose genre is totally different. You’ve heard of chain-smokers. Writers, especially beginners, need to be chain-readers. And write every day. Write about things that get under your skin and keep you up at night.”

Hosseini is just one of the many brilliant examples of writers we may not hear too much about. However, fellow Eagles, let not our sights become narrow to the writers who are just like us. We will never grow that way. Instead, let us collectively open up our minds to exploring writers who are totally different from us. We have so much to learn.    

The Wisdom of Sholeh Wolpe’

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This Wednesday February 4, Georgia Southern University and the Writing & Linguistics Department enjoyed a rare treat: a reading, workshop and q&a with poet, writer, and translator Sholeh Wolpe.

Wolpe’s very opening words struck the nostalgic mood of the reading and her subject matter: home is the missing tooth that tongue reaches for in the empty space.  An immigrant myself, I immediately recognized the core, complex truth of those simple words.  Wolpe left her home in Iran when she was thirteen years old, before the revolution that would eventually prevent her from returning, making her, in effect, an exile.

“An exile is someone who wants to  go home but can’t,” she explained candidly to a rapt audience.  Her early residence in Trinidad sprinkled her poems with vivid sensory images of a caribbean paradise, yet the longing for home permeates even the most uplifting poems.

“I finally decided,” said Wolpe of her long search for home, “that home is within the heart.  We carry it inside of us.”  She believes that if all people came to understand this, then we would all look to each other as “our people” and home would be everywhere. There would be no need for wars or separation based on religious or political differences.

“I’ve decided to make poetry my religion,” said Wolpe candidly.  I wanted to stand up and applaud.

BOOKS BY SHOLEH WOLPÉ

sin-selected poems of Forugh FarrokhzadRooftops of Tehran The Scar SaloonBreaking the Jaws of Silence--Sixty American Poets Speak to the WorldKeeping Time With Blue HyacinthsThe ForbiddenTable & Pen--Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle EastThe Atlanta Review

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