We are pleased to announce that the first Freedom Flotilla Coalition Literary Competition “Keys to the Future of Palestine” has now closed. We thank all of the people who contributed their stories and poetry and our jurors. We will announce the winners of Friday March 30, Land Day in Palestine, and beginning sharing with you the winning stories and poems over the following days. Here are the biographies of our three English language jurors.

Photo of Sumayya Lee, South Africa
Sumayya Lee, South Africa

Sumayya Lee was born and raised in Durban, South Africa. She has worked as an Islamic Studies teacher, Montessori Directress and Teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Her debut, The Story of Maha (Kwela, 2007) was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book – Africa and Longlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Award. It is currently on the undergraduate Curriculum at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Her second novel, Maha, Ever After was published by Kwela in 2009. She has been a judge for the Young Muslim Writers Awards for the past five years and a mentor on the Writivism programme. She has also judged the annual Writivism Short Story Prize and currently serves as the Writivism Mentoring and Residencies coordinator.

Photo of author Monia Mazigh, 2017.
Monia Mazigh, 2017

Monia Mazigh is a Canadian author and academic best known for her efforts to free her husband Maher Arar from a Syrian prison. Her memoir Hope and Despair: My Struggle to Free My Husband, Maher Arar (McClelland and Stewart 2008, translated by Patricia Claxton and Fred Reed) documents her ordeal after her husband was arrested and how she campaigned to clear his name.

Mazigh’s works include Hope Has Two Daughters (Anansi 2017, translated by Fred Reed), Mirrors and Mirages (Anansi, 2014), a finalist for the Trillium Book Award in the original French, and Random Thoughts About Feminism, a story that appears in Resilience and Triumph: Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories (Second Story Press, 2015). Born and raised in Tunisia, Mazigh immigrated to Canada in 1991. She holds a PhD in finance from McGill University and taught at Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, BC. She is the former National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. Mazigh lives in Ottawa with her husband and two children. She is a regular blogger in English and French on her website.

Photo of author & playwright Naomi Wallace.
Naomi Wallace, US / UK (photo credit: Gregory Costanzo)

Naomi Wallace’s plays―which have been produced in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States and the Middle East―include In the Heart of America, Slaughter City, One Flea Spare, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, Things of Dry Hours, The Fever Chart: Three Vision of the Middle East, And I and Silence,  Night is a Room. Awards: Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for theatre (twice),  Fellowship of Southern Writers Drama Award, Obie Award and the Horton Foote Award. She is also a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts development grant. In 2013, Wallace received the inaugural Windham Campbell prize for drama, and in 2015 an Arts and Letters Award in Literature.
About this contest, Naomi says “The dream of breaking the blockade continues with real boats and real hearts and minds that do not give up.  The poems and stories created by writers about Gaza will be much needed wind in the sails of the next determined boats to sail for justice for Palestine.”


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