Last week, the surprising message “Pre-orders for Saif Alsaegh’s book Iraqi Headaches are live!” popped up on my Facebook news feed. A former student of mine is publishing a book? And how quickly can I brag about this to my friends and family?
Saif studied academic essay writing with me for 10 months with the Iraqi Student Project (ISP) in Damascus, Syria. ISP is a grass-roots effort to help Iraqi students acquire the education they need to participate in rebuilding their country. Saif had heard about ISP through word of mouth, applied online and then relocated from Iraq to Damascus, Syria, leaving his family behind in order to take part in the program. At the end of one year of intense academic study Saif set off to earn his undergraduate degree at the University of Great Falls in Montana on a tuition waiver.
Soon after starting his freshman year in 2011, Saif began experimenting with writing poetry in both Arabic and English and taking part in open mic nights and poetry slams near campus. His work has been published in Witness, and the Great Falls Tribune. Saif has also dabbled in writing for the stage; an Oklahoma University student group performed his short play “There Was a Dream in Syria” last March.
Iraqi Headaches, a collection of poetry in English with a small section of Arabic poems with English translations, will be Saif’s first book. The release is planned for the end of November by Nouveau Nostalgia, a “micro-publisher” based in Great Falls, Montana.
EPIC believes in the importance of promoting understanding between Americans and Iraqis, and supports Saif’s work and the West Coast book tour Nouveau Nostalgia is planning for the release whole-heartedly. We are excited that Saif will bring stories of Iraq to a new audience.
The Indiegogo campaign reached its funding goal within one week, so the project is on. You can still pre-order your own copy of Iraqi Headaches through November 11 for $10.
Photograph used with Permission. Copyright Tyson Habein 2013.