Cynthia Dewi Oka, Poet
From Bali, Indonesia, lives in California, USA
Cynthia fled Indonesia with her family as a 10 year old, moving to Vancouver and then, with her son, to Philadelphia. Now living in California, Cynthia is a poet of her life experiences – understanding and creating herself in the context of her past.
She is the author of A Tinderbox in Three Acts, a Blessing the Boats Selection chosen by Aracelis Girmay, published by BOA Editions in 2022; Fire Is Not a Country (2021) and Salvage (2017) published by Northwestern University Press; and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water, first published by Dinah Press in 2012, with a second edition of new and revised poems published by Thread Makes Blanket in 2016.
A 2021-2022 Poet in Residence at the Amy Clampitt House in Lenox, MA, she has been awarded the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award, the Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize, and the Fifth Wednesday Journal Editor’s Prize in Poetry. She is an alum of the Voices of Our Nations (VONA) Workshop and the Vermont Studio Center, and earned her MFA as a Holden Minority Scholar at Warren Wilson College. She serves as a Poetry Editor at Kweli Journal
Cynthia also teaches creative writing and poetry, and is a creative facilitator, at various colleges and literary arts organizations, including Bryn Mawr, New Mexico State and others.
To support immigrant poets, Cynthia simply asks that you read and teach immigrant poets. She also suggests that you consider donating to Philadelphia Praise Center multiethnic church in South Philadelphia.
Paul Oka, Fire is Not a Country LP, 2022
“Future Revisions” is a collaboration with Philadelphia Contemporary, Asian Arts Initiative, and Friends of the Rail Park. It was installed July 2021 at The Rail Park (12th and Callowhill) in Philadelphia.
Season 1, Episode 1: Cynthia Dewi Oka, Poet
From Bali, Indonesia. Lives in Los Angeles, California, USA
Cynthia fled Indonesia with her family as a 10 year old, moving to Vancouver and then, with her son, to Philadelphia. Now living in California, Cynthia is a poet of her life experiences – understanding herself in the context of her past.
Season 1, Episode 2: Dunya Mikhail, Poet and Novelist
From Baghdad, Iraq. Lives in Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Dunya left Iraq in 2003 and… An exceptional award-winning poet for most of her career, Dunya’s new book is a novel about the lived experience of Yazidi women and was shortlisted for the 2021 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. She was awarded the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture in 2022.
Season 1, Episode 3: Anna Badkhen, Essayist
From Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Russia. Lives in Philadelphia, PA, USA.
A war reporter earlier in her career, Anna is now the author of seven books and numerous articles that look at searchingly at such diverse topics as the Senegalese fishing culture, Fulani cattle-herders, and Afghan carpet weavers. Her most recently book, the wonderful essay collection Bright Unbearable Reality was just longlisted for the 2022 National Book Award.
Season 1, Episode 4: Shafi Karimi and Sofiea Sakhi, Journalists
From Afghanistan. Live in Paris, France.
Shafi and Sofiea, both Hazara, left Afghanistan in 2020. They reported extensively on the ….