We had to do something following the Beirut port blast

We had to do something following the Beirut port blast


This summer marks the release of the anthology The Beirut Call: Harnessing Creativity for Change, a collection [by the Nabad program – Dar al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture] from Elyssar Press that features the work of 21 artists, poets, professors, and activists exploring the theme of art as essential, especially in the wake of disasters.

The virtual book launch, hosted by the Shuffle Collective, celebrates this crucial anthology about resilience & resistance culture in Lebanon. Collectively, the art, poetry, academic testimonials, analyses, narratives, and stories in this work and demand social change.

Below are just a few highlights from this virtual event, which you can watch and leave a comment on our Elyssar Press YouTube channel.

Artists and Academics Speak to Art as Essential

Katia Aoun Hage, the founder of Elyssar Press, opened the reading portion of the book launch with her powerful poem “Beyond the screen in my palm,” where the speaker studies her phone filled “with faces of loved ones” while contacting family during the immediate aftermath of the Beirut port explosion.

Cover image of The Beirut Call shows downtown Lebanon at night with street art and many people near a large church with arches and columns.
You can purchase The Beirut Call now as an e-book or hardcover copy.

After setting the stage, Hage welcomed Dr. Mitri Raheb, who spoke to the role of art immediately following the explosion on August 4th of 2020.

“Staying a spectator was not an option,” Dr. Raheb explained in the book launch, “we had to do something.” At the time, Dr. Raheb was in Palestine, where he is the Founder and President of Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem, and he also wrote the foreword in The Beirut Call.

Dr. Raheb, along with Dr. Pamela Chrabieh and Roula Salibi are three key people who made this anthology possible. The team at Elyssar Press could not be more impressed by their dedication to the support essential art. This anthology is a result of that sentiment, with proceeds from The Beirut Call going towards Dar al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture, as a vibrant and critical effort to fund artists, arts NGOs, and small creative enterprises’ projects in Lebanon.

In the words of Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, from her introduction for the anthology, the “contributions to The Beirut Call inspire us to think about the impacts of arts and culture on cities and urban life […] as well as so many other facets of living.”

At around the 75th minute mark of the book launch, Dr. Chrabieh continued to share powerful words:

“We’re not looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, because we will probably not see that in our lifetime, but at least in our darkest hours, we are surrounded with people who shine—beautiful souls—who are both resistant and resilient.”

-Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, professor & artist

Featured speakers in this book launch also included 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.

21 cropped portraits of the artists, reporters, writers, and professors whose work is in The Beirut Call.

The Beirut Call is a new anthology about resilience & resistance culture in Lebanon. Click the image or here to watch the Book Launch.