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The Beirut Call: Countdown to Release

Our team has been hard at work finalizing the first anthology that Elyssar Press is publishing. We are honored to be a part of this incredible project. The Beirut Call is a collection of first-hand accounts by artists, scholars, poets, and activists exploring the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion on August 4th of 2020.

For this publication, we have partnered with Dar al-Kalima University, College of Arts and Culture. Over 20 voices have come together for this anthology. In the words of scholar, artist, and activist, Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, who wrote the introduction for The Beirut Call and has been largely involved in making this project possible, this anthology:

“[…] brings together individuals who think, do and create to inspire and communicate diverse approaches in facing wars, crises, instability and despair; people who are turning to the arts and culture as a way to engage audiences through deep and emotional connections to bring about change, and who are imbuing their work with social and political messaging to advance the issues about which they feel most passionate.”

-Dr. Pamela Chrabieh
Artwork by Dr.Pamela Chrabieh showing a man with eyes cast downward towards the ground.
Original artwork from The Beirut Call by Dr. Pamela Chrabieh.

Elyssar Press is grateful for this opportunity to share a collection of essays, poems, photographs, and art by critical thinkers from around the world who share a connection with Beirut. The result is a book that offers an unflinching glimpse into the resilience, the hardship, the hope, and innovation of this city. There are artists around the world who may appreciate the perspective of the arts as essential to healing and justice.

We are honored to share this journey with the people and the projects that Nabad supports. We hope that this book will bring the spotlight back to this incredible city and its people.

Excerpts from the Anthology: The Global Voices of Beirut

There are so many incredible voices in this collection. Featured artists, activists, academics, and change-makers include Anthony Semaan, Carmen Yahchouchi, Cliff Makhoul, Dorine Potel Darwiche, Faten Yaacoub, Frank Darwiche, Joelle Sfeir, Katia Aoun Hage, Linda Tamim, Loulou Malaeb, Nada Raphael, Roula Salibi, Nadia Wardeh, Roula-Maria Dib, Omar Sabbagh, Rabih Rached, Wadih Al-Asmar, Reine Abbas, and Roula Douglas, with a foreword by Mitri Raheb and an introduction by Pamela Chrabieh.

Each essay, illustration, poem, and photo in this collection offer a unique glimpse of this city. Here are only a few sneak-peaks, below.

Original artwork by Reine Abbas showing three women yelling. Piece is called Ghadab.
Ghadab by Reine Abbas, CEO and Co-founder or Wixel Studios. Her artwork along with her essay, “With Great Change Comes Great Responsibility” are featured in this anthology.

Each essay, poem, artwork, and photograph offers a different glimpse into the day of the Beirut port explosion. Additionally, they offer commentary about the local and global response. As writer and scholar Omar Sabbagh describes,

The 4th of August is famous for being the day, in 1914, when the First World War began.  In modern Lebanese history, perhaps it will be marked out as the day when a final straw broke the final camel’s back.”

-Omar Sabbagh, excerpt from his essay “Extreme Unction: Beirut At the End of Its Tether.”
Two musicians playing guitar and singing to each other.
Cliff Makhoul’s photograph of a Tiny Gig Concert organized by Beirut Jam Sessions.

Readers of the anthology can expect a heartfelt reflection, a love song of sorts, to this great city, as well as an ache for all it used to be and all it could be, especially if the cries of artists, human rights activists, and writers were heard. Some essays and poems focus on the day of the explosion itself and the immediate aftermath. Other essays reflect on the city’s past and how to center art as part of the revisioning process.

In the words of Loulou Malaeb,

“The reader will come to the realization that we, the Lebanese people, -who are yet living- still, are only so because of some haphazard ‘fortunate’ timings.”

-LouLoud Malaeb, from her essay “Fortunate Timings.”

Sneak Peak: Photographs in The Beirut Call

Photographs have a way of speaking for themselves, and this anthology features the works of incredible photographers. One of those photographers is Dorine Potel Darwiche. She explains why she turns to photography in her essay, “The Blast of a Sparkle,” which is part of the anthology. Darwiche writes how sometimes, she “[…] cannot speak… and so I take pictures.” Her photograph below shows a DVD shop in Beirut with stacks of DVDs on nearly every horizontal surface.

A DVD shop in Beirut with a large desk and stacks upon stacks of DVDS piled on every horizontal surface.
“DVD Shop,” original photograph taken by Dorine Potel Darwiche.

Darwiche also expresses how,

“Photography is the means to seize form at the very moment wherein it resembles a majestic structure, right before it bursts again into thousands of details.”

-Dorine Potel Darwiche, from her essay “The Blast of a Sparkle”
The Beirut Call is due out in April 2021. Cover photo by Nada Raphael “Scream.”

What are you most excited to read and share in this anthology? Please let us know in the comments below. And keep your eye out towards the end of April, when we will release this incredible anthology. We look forward to celebrating each of the artists who make change seem possible.

If you know someone who would be inspired by The Beirut Call, please help our small press spread the word! The Beirut Call will be available for sale at the beginning of May. Thank you for your time to read this article.

Follow @ElyssarPress on social media for updates, release parties, and more!

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Meet Elyssar Press: The Editing Team

As a small team, everyone at Elyssar Press plays a vital role in reviewing, editing, designing, and publishing manuscripts from around the world. The editing team consists of Samar Hage, Jessica Yowell, and Allie Rigby. They are self-professed word nerds who share a love of words.

The Beirut Call: Countdown to Release

The Beirut Call is a collection of first-hand accounts by artists, scholars, and activists exploring the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion on August 4th of 2020.

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Meet Elyssar Press & the Team Behind It

There is a new publishing press in Redlands, California and a driven team of sisters behind it. Meet Katia, Nadia, Stefanie, Samar, and Maryse, the five sisters who launched Elyssar Press in 2019.

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