12 February 2021
Get to Know You: Left to Write Facilitator, Lujayn Hourani!
Meet Lujayn Hourani, our Non-Fiction/Memoir Community Facilitator for Left to Write!
Lujayn Hourani is a Palestinian writer, editor, and arts worker living on unceded Wurundjeri Country. Their writing worries expectations of land, identity, and the relationship between the two. Lujayn has been programmed at Emerging Writers’ Festival, Digital Writers’ Festival, National Young Writers’ Festival, and Freeplay, among others. Lujayn is a 2020 recipient of The Wheeler Centre’s Next Chapter Scheme, and you can find their work inMeanjin, Overland, Australian Poetry, and Going Down Swinging, among others.
We had a quick chat with Lujayn about their creative process, community and what they’re up to outside of facilitating Left to Write this year!
How has digital spaces and social media impacted your own creative process and sense of community?
This is a big and important question, because so much of my practice relies on the digital realm (even the writing that I intend to take off the page). With so many literary spaces going digital, I could let myself write solely for the screen. The lack of confinement, the ability to sprawl, was a really big deal for me. Being able pull language in multiple directions at once was a big deal. So much of my writing is about land – the ownership of it –, and sprawling on the screen taught me how to sprawl on the page too, and that in turn was reclamation to me. A lot of my experimentation with language starts with digital literature, even if it doesn’t necessarily end there.
How important is a sense of community and connection to your work as a creative? And what are some ways you have assured this (or not!) throughout your life?
My work is all community, it is all connection, and I don’t just mean this from a cultural sense. Teaching the Left To Write sessions, we keep circling back to talking about your writing as a way to develop your ideas, and also to make sure you’re covering the right ground. I’m always talking about my writing. With friends, with community members, with myself, even. Because we don’t live in vacuums, we can’t write in them. When I look back and think about all the times I’ve been unhappy with a piece, it’s always because I haven’t yet had the chance to talk about the ideas or themes; it’s critical to me.
What have you been working on recently?
2021 is hopefully the year I finish my manuscript. I’m working on a book of experimental poetry on Palestine and settler-colonialism.
What (book/poem/play/comic/music/creative work) has inspired you and your work?
In 2020 I kept coming back to Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Also a lot Claudia Rankine (particularly Citizen and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely) and Anne Carson. I’m only just realising now that all three of these writers have such a poetic command of language, even when they aren’t writing overt poetry. I think that’s what I’m trying to do, be a poet by nature, not just by trade. h hunt’s Playing Piano for Dad is also an album that I will put on repeat and write to for an hour or two.
If you could time-travel, what tips would you give yourself at the very start of your career?
Write how you speak, write what you know.
Our new 2021 initiative, Left to Write, is an online 6 week writing group, workshop and community program that aims to connect writers and encourage accountability, running from 20th January, 2021 to 24th February, 2021.