Zohra Saed’s poetry and essays have been published in numerous anthologies and journals. Some publications include This Day: Diaries of American Women Ed. Joni B. Cole, Rebecca Joffrey, and B.K. Rakhra; Chosen Shore: Stories of Immigrants (Life History) Ellen Alexander Conley (U. California Press); Shattering the Stereotypes: Muslim Women Speak out Ed. Fawzia Afzal Khan (Olive Branch Press); Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War, Faith and Sexuality Ed. Sarah Hussein (Seal Press); Gallerie International Journal: Afghanistan Ed. Bina Sarkar (India); Speaking for Herself: Asian Women’s Writings (Penguin India Books). She has performed as part of the cast of the legendary theater director Ping Chong’s Undesirable Elements where the ensemble cast performed at the first National Asian American Theater Festival. The full script was published in New York Theater Review Ed. Brook Stowe.
Zohra is a Brooklyn based Afghan American poet. She is the co-editor of One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature (University of Arkansas Press), editor of the chapbook: Langston Hughes: Poems, Photos and Notebook from Turkestan (Lost & Found, The CUNY Poetics Documents Initiative); and Woman. Hand/Pen. (Belladonna Chaplet). Her essays on the Central Asian diaspora and their food history have appeared in Eating Asian America (NYU Press) and The Asian American Literary Review. She co-founded UpSet Press, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit indie press, with poet Robert Booras. Zohra is an Assistant Professor of Literature at Bard Early College, Queens.
2018 Selected, Cave Canem Workshop with LaTasha N. Diggs “Procedures, Discomforts, and Retellings.”
2018, Selected, “To Carry within Us an Orchard, to Eat!” Winter Tangerine/Kundiman Food Writing Workshop.
2018, Finalist, Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Contest, Split this Rock for: “Jalalabad will Never be Jbad.”
2018, Honorable Mention, Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Contest for “Aquanet Days.”
2016-2017, The Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC, CUNY Graduate Center) Dissertation Fellowship.
2014-2015 IRADAC/Schomburg Digitization Fellow.
2010-2015 Communications Fellow, Bernard L. Schwartz Communications Institute at Baruch College.
Zohra Saed (°Jalalabad) is mainly a poet. By applying a metaphorical language, Saed wants to amplify the fantastic by creating compositions or settings that generate images that leave traces and balances on the edge of recognition and alienation, war and migration.
Her collected, altered and own written works with thematically interrelated material for memory and projection. The possible seems true and the truth exists, but it has many faces, as Hanna Arendt cites from Franz Kafka. By contesting the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, she tries to grasp language. Transformed into art, language becomes an ornament. At that moment, lots of ambiguities and indistinctnesses, which are inherent to the phenomenon, come to the surface.
Her works focus on the inability of communication which is used to visualize reality, the attempt of dialogue, the dissonance between form and content and the dysfunctions of language. In short, the lack of clear references is a key element in the work. By applying abstraction, she creates intense personal moments masterfully created by means of rules and omissions, acceptance and refusal, luring the viewer round and round in circles.
Her works appear as dreamlike images in which fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory always play a key role. By investigating language on a meta-level, she makes work that deals with the documentation of events and the question of how they can be presented. The work tries to express this with the help of physics and technology, but not by telling a story or creating a metaphor.
Her works do not reference recognizable form. The results are deconstructed to the extent that meaning is shifted and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted. With Plato’s allegory of the cave in mind, she absorbs the tradition of remembrance art into daily practice. This personal follow-up and revival of a past tradition is important as an act of meditation.
Her works are an investigation into representations of (seemingly) concrete ages and situations as well as depictions and ideas that can only be realized in mixed media art. Zohra Saed currently lives and works in Brooklyn.
[pssst this was from an artist statement generator from 500letters.org and it was an absolutely fun way to think about myself and the themes in my work. As they say, all writers write about one thing and mine has been: I was born in Afghanistan. I am now in Brooklyn. Here are all the things I know and things I am told to remember about the journey in between.]