Languages of Home and Diaspora: Nourishing Palestine in Food and Verse
Writer and cookbook author Reem Kassis and poet Zeina Azzam became friends through the acts of cooking and writing. Though they hail from different generations and have unique life experiences, they forged a profound bond over their Palestinian heritage.
In this program, they engage in conversation about their life trajectories as Palestinians and as mothers, daughters, writers, and creative spirits. Kassis will offer a demonstration of how to make ka’ak al-Quds, a quintessentially Palestinian bread ring from Jerusalem, while Azzam will read poems that reflect women’s sensibilities regarding identity and the transmission of cultural traditions, highlighting the meaning of “home” and why, in its many incarnations, it matters still.
This program is a co-presentation of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the Roadwork Center.
American Sign Language interpretation and closed captions will be provided for this program.
About the Participants
Reem Kassis is a Palestinian writer whose work focuses on the intersection of food with culture, history, and politics. She is the author of the best-selling and award-winning cookbooks The Palestinian Table (2017) and The Arabesque Table (2021). Her other writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the LA Times, and various academic journals. She grew up in Jerusalem, then lived in the United States, France, Germany, Jordan, and the UK. She obtained her undergraduate and MBA degrees from UPenn and Wharton and her MSc in social psychology from the London School of Economics.
Zeina Azzam is a Palestinian American poet, writer, editor, and community activist. She volunteers for organizations that promote Palestinian rights and the civil rights of vulnerable communities in Alexandria, Virginia, where she lives. Her poems appear in Pleiades Magazine, Passager Journal, Mizna, Cordite Poetry Review, Sukoon Magazine, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Split This Rock, Barzakh: A Literary Magazine, and Voice Male, among others, and in edited volumes including Tales from Six Feet Apart, Bettering American Poetry, Making Mirrors: Writing/Righting by and for Refugees, and Gaza Unsilenced. Her chapbook, Bayna Bayna, In-Between, was published in May 2021. She holds an MA in Arabic literature from Georgetown University and an MA in sociology from George Mason University.