“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald (via words-and-coffee)
Hannah Davis at New York University and Saif Mohammad at the National Research Council Canada are using an algorithm to analyze the way the emotional temperature changes throughout novels. This new computer program automatically generates music that reflects these moods and how they evolve throughout the book.
"Poet Leigh Cuen remembers an unexpected encounter between a Jewish teenager and Muslim grandmothers in Nablus. This memoir excerpt breaks stereotypes wide open with an innocent smile." - Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art and Voices. An online exhibition by the International Museum of Women featuring art and stories by women around the globe.
Awesome Books by Inspiring Women Around the World #IWD2014
Here are some of my favorite nonfiction books by inspiring women across the globe. International Women’s Day falls on Saturday this year. What better way to celebrate than curling up with a good book and reading powerful stories written by women who have changed the world?
And the best thing about these stories? They’re all true.
+ “Walking with Comrades” by Arundhati Roy: A must read for anyone who loves Roy’s trademark, sardonic analysis and piercing descriptions.
+ “Between Two Worlds” (memoir) and “The Other Side of War: Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope” (photojournalism) by Zainab Salbi, all around badass and founder of Women for Women International.
+ “Mighty Be Our Powers” by Leymah Gbowee, who will give the keynote speech at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum this Sunday.
I first read Gbowee’s memoir back in 2011, when I was still living in San Francisco. It kept me up all night, that deviant paper rascal, my eyes watered and bedsheets tangled between my legs. While the book received a great deal of praise for its humanitarian message, I’d like to focus for a minute on its literary merit and craftsmanship.
Gbowee’s book dwells on the psychic spaces between the political and personal, strength and vulnerability, resilience and faith. “You have not heard it before because it is an African woman’s story and our stories are rarely told,” she writes. “I want you to hear mine.”
Her ability to see multiple angles of the same scene enhances the book’s introspective scope, swaddling her personal autobiography in the tangible context of regional history. She uses the same intimacy and ease when describing her personal life as she does when explaining psychological interplay between the Liberian public and warlords that brutalized the country during ten years of civil war.
Gbowee is cofounder and executive director of the Women Peace and Security Network-Africa. In 2011 she became a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and gained international fame as the subject of the documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” Leonard Riggio, the chairman of Barnes & Noble, found her story so inspiring that he personally funded her American book tour. She chose to tour universities, churches, nonprofits and libraries instead of going the traditional route in stores.
One of her greatest strengths as an author is Gbowee’s complex understanding of emotions. Her ability to spell out the warped realities of depression, exile, trauma, poverty and domestic abuse are testament to the years of counseling experience she gained by working with Liberian child soldiers and traumatized refugees from Sierra Leone. Gbowee also describes postwar reconciliation and her own journey moving on, past an abusive relationship and taking her children with her. She tells of returning home to her family, how they struggled to reconcile where they were now without being overwhelmed by their memories.
When violence threatened to tear Liberia apart again, Gbowee says that a dream laced with sacred symbols told her to gather women together to pray for peace. Through that inspiration she started an interfaith and transnational women’s peace movement.
Dressed in white, Liberian women gathered outside important buildings to pray and protest. Protesting proved ineffective so they blockaded the entrance with their bodies and refused to let the generals, politicians and warlords leave the building until they negotiated a peace agreement. In many ways similar to the biblical story of Esther, Gbowee found inspiration in sacred texts while utilizing fasting, prayer, and her own feminine body as powerful forces for resisting violence.
The book’s societal and religious explorations put it on par with works such as Gandhi’s autobiography. Gbowee embraces her own contradictions and mistakes in order to write humanity into the media image of her.
“Might Be Our Powers” uses pragmatic, conversational language to describe how they built the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace and the Women in Peacebuilding Network. As a writer, she wielded relatable syntax to make an extreme situation comprehensible and relatable to distant readers. The book could also serve as a guide for anyone inspired to build a grassroots movement. Not even immense suffering can keep a determined woman from achieving her potential for greatness.
Do you have a favorite book about the true story of an inspiring woman? I’m always open to reading recommendations. Do tell.
“Some people do not have to search - they find their niche early in life and rest there, seemingly contented and resigned. They do not seem to ask much of life, sometimes they do not seem to take it seriously. At times I envy them, but usually I do not understand them - seldom do they understand…
“Of the first three years I taught in San Francisco, what I remember most is the thickening of my silence, and a stubborn, bordering on outright perverse desire not to share Pakistan with anyone, as though the act of sharing the country would dilute what made it mine. I had no words for the twisting feeling in the center of my chest for Pakistan, the knot of pain in my right shoulder, homesickness so intense that it had in fact become physical pain. The more Pakistan appeared in newspapers, the more difficult it became to explain the place.”— Taymiya R Zaman, “Not Talking About Pakistan,” Tanqeed, Feb 2013 (via fathimacader)
Verify before you Tweet. Talk to primary sources. Pick up the phone.
Listen more than you broadcast.
Identify the people you are re-posting. Always ask, “Who made this post?” Try and get as much information as you can about that source.
Always cite your sources, no matter what platform you are using. (Including any images, video, quotes, or facts that you post.)
Try not to use images without the permission of the artist. Be nice to photographers.
Don’t jump to conclusions about who a person is. Do your research and make sure you aren’t slandering an innocent person with a similar name or mistaken identity.
Interact, ask a lot of questions to engage your networks. Use hashtags that already exist, to help your question get more attention from people already discussing the topic. Respond to questions and comments quickly. Engage in conversation. Show that you are listening, in a useful way. This will increase your audience.
Don’t scrape videos from the original content creator.
Be a specialist. Have a beat. Become a resource for a particular topic that you are passionate about.
The Future of Journalism and Media in Israel/Palestine
I promised myself that here in Italy, I wouldn’t write about Israel. It’s too sensitive, and I am prone to being sentimental. It’s an explosive combination.
And yet when I sit to write, my mind floats back to the Holy Land. All around me, my fellow festival volunteers discuss “The Israel-Palestine Issue.” That land is saturated with journalists: The conflict has become a “media war.”
It is only here in Perugia that I’ve realized that “the conflict” and my career face similar challenges.
We feel, Israelis, Palestinians and young journalists alike, that our futures depend on the image of ourselves we craft for a global audience.
Traditional news organizations offer more than support and resources; they also offer protection, a shield between the audience and the reporter. Mistakes and controversies are absorbed by the institution, so journalists are free to seek truth.
Journalism is shifting from institutions to individuals buzzing around the web. Alone, we must earn the trust of distant viewers and we are expected to produce the work that whole groups often fail to achieve: dynamic, reliable news. Journalists are expected to research, write, fact-check, record, produce, publish and promote our work, for a pittance, while adhering to the same professional standards that entire staffs and networks uphold.
This new market makes journalists financially and professionally vulnerable. We become the product, rather than our work. Am I ready to offer myself in exchange for the privilege of sharing stories?