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Poetry & Cello Performance with Maestro Karim Wasfi, Dunya Mikhail, and Aaron Hughes

From May 15, 2022 1:00 pm until May 15, 2022 2:00 pm
Posted by Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project
Categories: Map Events
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Join us for an afternoon of music and poetry at the Rochester Art Center with Iraqi American writer Dunya Mikhail, Maestro Karim Wasfi, and veteran and artist Aaron Hughes. In this live performance, poetry by Hughes and Mikhail will be interwoven with Maestro Wasfi's improvisations on the cello. Following the performance, audience members are invited to visit the Poetry Despite/Music Despite exhibition in the gallery. A portion of the event proceeds will support Iraqi poets and musicians. Reserve tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/poetry-despitemusic-despite-poetry-cello-performance-tickets-290827923147.


Co-presented by the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project and the Rochester Art Center, Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) connects artists across time and place, from World War I to the “Global War on Terror,” from the US to Iraq. In this exhibition, conceived and organized by Iraq war veteran and artist Aaron Hughes, music, poetry, and visual art come together to facilitate connections between the current state of endless war and its historical antecedents. These connections acknowledge the recurring traumas of war and, conversely, the human connections that happen despite the pain.


Maestro Karim Wasfi is a renowned cellist, conductor, and founder of Peace Through Arts Foundation known for his “spontaneous compositions,” solo cello performances held at sites of recent bombings in Iraq. Wasfi conducted the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra 2007-2016 and established the Italy Iraq Scholarship program in Modena as well as the British Council office in 2005. Wasfi utilizes sound resonance on the brain, neuroscience function, cultural diplomacy, a unique music and sound approach for healing, cross cultural integration, deradicalization, and prevention of tension. His innovative approach helped thousands of people in crisis areas to rise from violence, fear, and intimidation of terror, by conveying creative peaceful resonance through music, sound and arts. Wasfi’s current effort is to rebuild Iraq’s war torn areas by focusing on healing and rebuilding inner and societal peace that aims to proactively prevent future relapse into war and conflict.

Dunya Mikhail is an Iraqi American poet and writer. She has received fellowships from the United States Artists, the Guggenheim, and Kresge. Her honors also include the Arab American Book Award, and UN Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. Her book The War Works Hard was shortlisted for International Griffin Poetry Prize. New Directions published three of her other poetry books and her non-fiction The Beekeeper which was a finalist for the National Book Award and for PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award. Her debut novel The Bird Tattoo, shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, is coming out on December 6, 2022 from Pegasus. She currently works as a special lecturer of Arabic at Oakland University in Michigan.

Aaron Hughes is an artist, curator, organizer, teacher, anti-war activist, and Iraq War veteran. Working through an interdisciplinary practice rooted in drawing and printmaking, Hughes works collaboratively to create meaning out of personal and collective trauma, transform systems of oppression, and seek liberation. He develops projects that often utilize popular research strategies, experiments with forms of direct democracy, and operates in solidarity with the people most impacted by structural violence. Hughes works with a range of art and activist groups, including Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, About Face: Veterans Against the War, emerging Veteran Art Movement, and Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project.


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