Rusted Radishes; the Beirut Literary and Art Journal from the American University of Beirut took on the first publication of the 12 winners of the Barjeel Poetry Prize 2020, the brainchild of the Barjeel Art Foundation, whose names were announced last month.
“The ekphrastic poetry prize, which drew entries from more than 500 poets around the world, asked writers to respond to one of twenty works of art that form part of the Barjeel collection,” organisers stated. The list of winners is incredibly diverse, with writers from around the world crafting works in a wide variety of styles. The winners and runners-up live in Nigeria, Lebanon, the US, Russia, the UK, Egypt, Palestine, and the UAE, with further origins in Pakistan, Syria, Palestine, and beyond. The youngest winner is 15-year-old Batool Abu Akleen, a student in Gaza.
Rusted Radishes: Beirut Literary and Art Journal was founded by English Department faculty Rima Rantisi and Crystal Hoffman of the American University of Beirut in 2012 with the intention of creating a space for both emerging and established writers who have a connection to Lebanon. Over the years, they have published diverse work from bordering countries, the diaspora, and beyond. As they evolved, they opened the submissions to people connected to the MENA region.
They state, “we do not insist on creating geographic borders for submissions, but we do acknowledge that Beirut’s revolving door of influences and cultures, its history, and its perch on the Mediterranean, is certainly at the heart of a unique convergence of voices.”
The Barjeel Art Foundation is an independent, UAE-based initiative established to manage, preserve and exhibit an extensive collection of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. The foundation’s guiding principle is to contribute to the intellectual development of the art scene in the Gulf region by building a prominent, publicly accessible art collection in the UAE. Part of this objective involves developing a public platform to foster nuanced dialogue about contemporary art practices in the Arab world.
Through in-house exhibitions, international artwork loans, print and online publications and interactive public programmes through collaborations with educational institutions, museums and cultural initiatives the Barjeel Art Foundation strives to become an informative resource for contemporary art from the Arab world and its diaspora, both locally and internationally.