Mohja Kahf, a professor of comparative literature and Middle East studies at the University of Arkansas since 1995, competed at the 1999 National Poetry Slam in Chicago. Professor became poet, and her delivery has never been the same. Kahf‘s book Hagar Poems offers feminist imaginings of figures from the Quran, and won honorable mention in the Arab American National Museum’s 2017 Book Awards. Kahf’s essay about the difficult birth of her son, “The Caul of Inshallah,” won a Pushcart Prize. The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, her novel about a Syrian girl growing up in Indiana, was chosen for the 2017 One Book Project by Indiana University East. “But where’s my movie offer?” she asks.
Mohja’s first poetry book, E-mails from Scheherazad, was a finalist for the Paterson Prize. Kahf was galvanized in 2000 to participate in an environmental movement in her hometown, and has served on the local ACLU board and the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective. She is a founding member of the Radius of Arab American Writers, and came up with its name; the acronym, RAWI, means “narrator.” Born in Syria, Kahf is a member of the Syrian Nonviolence Movement. In 2011, she tweeted grassroots stories of the internationally ignored grassroots uprising for human dignity in Syria. An ally for LGBTQ folk, Kahf believes that Black Lives Matter and human rights struggles around the world are all connected. Kahf was honored in April 2018 by the Democratic Black Caucus of Northwest Arkansas for Lifetime Achievement in Inclusion in Education.