Student-Faculty Duo to Present at Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference

Meaza Petros ’19 from Boston, Mass., who designed her own Colby-Sawyer major focused on global affairs, was accepted to present at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Portland, Ore. in March. Petros will share the stage with Associate Professor of Humanities and poet Ewa Chrusciel; their panel proposal, “Hoopoes and Dybbuks: Immigrant and Refugee Voices,” was one of 500 selected from more than 2,000.

“A lot of accomplished writers’ proposals are rejected every year, so I want to emphasize what a great achievement it is for an undergraduate student to present her own voice at this conference,” Professor Chrusciel said.

Professor Chrusciel grew up in Poland and is the author of, among other collections of poetry, Contraband of Hoopoe, which explores issues of dislocation, immigration and desire. Petros grew up in Eritrea; her parents were taken as political prisoners and have not been heard from for more than 15 years. In 2009, she and her grandmother escaped the country and sought asylum in the U.S.

Their panel considers what stories can be told and will explore immigrant and refugee voices, questions of who is able to speak and who speaks for whom, and ideas of (always porous) borders between migrants, communities and narratives. These voices can manifest themselves as hoopoes who dictate their letters to the olive tree of exile, to paraphrase Mahmoud Darwish, and dybbuks, the displaced souls of dead persons. Of particular interest are topics that include urban experience and consciousness.