Lisle Journal publishes essays from Middle East writers

Lisle Journal publishes essays from Middle East writers

Lisle Journal publishes essays from Middle East writers

Fifth Wednesday Journal, a twice yearly publication, released its latest issue which focuses on the experiences and writings of authors whose origins trace to the Middle East and North Africa.

The Journal features the submissions of 33 authors and photographers and is now available for purchase.

Issue # 21 is a Special Immigrant Issue features a beautiful interview with Susan Muaddi Darraj, author of The Inheritance of Exile; essays by Mira Baz, Ray Hanania, and others; poetry by Hedy Habra, Khaled Mattawa, Nadia Ibrashi, Leila Chatti, and Ibtisam Barakat; fiction by Pauline Kaldas, Alireza Taheri Araghi, Elmaz Abinader, and Susan Muaddi Darraj.

“Our contributors express the deepest human desires in their work,” explains Publisher and Editor Vern Miller.



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“They tell us of a transnational future, if we but listen. A future in which we understand the earth is here for all of us regardless of our religion, our ethnicity, our race, our heritage. These are but details; they can never describe our full identity as humans.”

Cover of Issue 21 of Fifth Wednesday Journal which focuses on writings from Middle East origin writers. Photo courtesy of Fifth Wednesday Journal

Miller adds, “This is of Fifth Wednesday Journal showcases the literary voices of some of our best writers in America, some of the best voices of people who came to American from the so-called MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries. We are honored that they shared their stories, their dreams, their inspirations, and their talent with us — with you, good reader.”

The cover of the book features a photo of a used book library in Syria taken in 2006. The essays are compelling an offer personal experiences

Writers and their contributions include:

Cover Photograph by Lauren Mulcahy, Used Book Library, Syria (2006)

Mira Baz, How Do You Pack Your Life in a Suitcase?

Ibtisam Barakat, Pain in Three Languages; Popcorn; Singing in Key; Self-Understanding; Rough

David Kherdian, Melkon

Naomi Shihab Nye, You Are Your Own State Department

Hedy Habra, The House in Aleppo that I Would Never Get to See; What Every Blossom Hides; Or Did You Ever Know We Were on the Same Wavelength?;  Nothing Comes Out of Nothing; I Came to be Known as the Damascene Rose

Elmaz Abinader, Fourth of July

Lena Zaghmouri, The Psyche of a Palestinian American Writer

Samuel Hazo, Let Live; Poetry in Passing; Lawrence of Wales

Silva Zanoyan Merjanian, Groong; Multilingual

Abdul Sattar Jawad, Baghdad When Religion Not an Issue; A Dirge for the River Tigris

Alireza Taheri Araghi, Agha

Susan Azar Porterfield, Jackie’s Mom Takes Us at Age 13 to See Elvira Madigan; A House Gets to Call Itself House

Lauren Camp, Learning Cursive

Monique Zamir, The Night Reads the Wind’s Book

Hazem Fahmy, Before Baba Comes With Me, He Asks If I’ll Ever Write a Love Poem Again

Dunya Mikhail, Black and White

Robert Manaster, Crystal Lake, 5th Month

Sara Ahmed, The Making of an Aggregated American

Impression and Photography

Richard Cahan, Introduction to the Photographic Story

Ali Eminov, Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq

Ilyas A. Abukar, In a Mosque in Mogadishu, Somalia

Morten, Mosaic at the National Museum of Syria, Damascus

Albert Gonzáles Farran, Qur’an Class in al-Fasher, Sudan

Rod Waddington, On the Streets of Sana’a, Yemen

Michel Duijvestijn, Arch of Septimius Severus, Khoms, Libya

Marco Fieber, Bazaar of Kashan, Iran

NASA National GoddardSpace Flight Center, Middle East, View from Above (2013)

Susan Muaddi Darraj, Ride Along


Nadia Ibrashi, Diego Rivera Paints a Mural of My Life; The Sweetness of Honey; Bird Song

Leila Chatti, Learning Again to Hunger; This Morning I Went to the Ocean to Feel

Yahia Lababidi, Notes on Compassion, Suffering, and Transformation

Maya Wahrman, five a.m. on a Jerusalem balcony

Khaled Mattawa, Lampedusa-Agadiz Suite

Mandana Zandian, Aleppo, An Eye Full of Earth, An Eye Full of Ocean

Pauline Kaldas, A Good Marriage

Philip Metres, The Bullet Dream, Veteran, Father, [for Hebron Means “Friend”]

Ray Hanania, Growing Up Arab in America

Deema K. Shehabi, You Are Of It, More or Less Forever, Eminent Domain

Hayan Charara, Michigan; Afterlife

BOOK REVIEW Adrienne Unger, Looking Both Ways

Fifth Wednesday Journal is a nonprofit, independent literary journal published twice a year in print. Their mission is to bring the finest fiction, poetry, essays, photography, interviews, and book reviews into your everyday life. They’re defining literature. In real context.

Issue 21: Fall 2017

Editors: Vern Miller & Hedy Habra

You can get more information on Fifth Wednesday Journal from their website online at is

You can order a subscription to Fifth Wednesday Journal, which is celebrating its 10th Year, by clicking this link.

You can order individual issues, including the latest issue # 21 by clicking this link.

Subscriptions are only $20 per year, or $37 for two years, and $54 for three years (6 issues plus a t-shirt). Single issues are only $11.

Contact Fifth Wednesday Journal by mail at P.O. Box 4033, Lisle, Illinois 60532-9033

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at


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