Writing the City: Mishka Mojabber Mourani at LAU

On Friday, April 11, the Department of English Language Instruction had the pleasure of hosting Mishka Mojabber Mourani, who read and discussed excerpts from her writing around the theme of the city. Ms. Paula Habre, Senior Instructor in the Department, introduced Ms. Mourani, who had been her very own English teacher and had sparked her initial interest in the English language.

Ms. Mourani, Senior Vice President at International College (IC), is a writer, educator, and trainer. She was born in Alexandria, Egypt, of a Lebanese father and Greek mother. She is the author of a poetry collection, Lest We Forget: Lebanon 1975-1990. She also published Balconies: A Mediterranean Memoir, among other works. For a full list of her publications, click on her profile here.  

“The city in many of her texts occupies a central place. It is almost a protagonist. Her book Balconies, A Mediterranean Memoir is an exploration of various phases of her life as seen from the balconies of the cities in which she has lived: Alexandria, Beirut, Athens and Sydney. The writer negotiates her identities within the context of the spaces she occupies as a woman, as a mother, as a citizen, as an exile, in times of conflict and in times of serenity.”

She also discussed the writing process, and the need to write because of the questions we can’t seem to find answers to. The need to explore our memories and emotions continuously.

The central question she asked of the audience revolved around their connection to their city. Though she allowed everyone into her own private vision of Beirut, a city of “contradictions and contrasts”, she also asked her listeners to reflect upon their own sense of belonging. To ask the question: “In what way do we belong to our city? Is it when no other city can ever be home?”