Thursday, 8 September 2011

Participating in 9/11 Ten Years Later

Participated today in Frank Stasio's 'State of Things' radio program, on memorializing 9/11 Ten Years Later in literature, art, music. I joined documentarian Tom Rankin, writer Tim Tyson, composer Mark Scearce and Duke chaplain Abdullah Antepli. Frank was more than ever his gracious self, but it was harrowing for each of us to relive that day.

I experienced 9/11 first as an American mother, then as a 'Muslim other', then as a writer. For the first three hours, I didn't know whether my older son was at work at his bank in one of the Towers in New York, or at their London office. Three hours later, when he called to tell me he was alright, I thought of all the mothers who didn't get that reassuring call. My second thought was to pray that no one from the Middle East had any connection to the event. And when that prayer wasn't answered, I realized that after twenty years of seemingly perfect integration in American society, I had in an instant lost the right to share in our national tragedy.

Each of Frank's guests today channeled the experience of 9/11 into a creative form. For me, at first, the enormity of the event silenced me. It seemed as if nothing would ever be relevant again: passion, ambition, love, hate, all the grand themes of literature and of life, nothing would ever be relevant to write about. And 9/11 itself was too much outside of all the parameters of conventional experience to try to fit inside the frame of a work of literature or art. I wrote several pieces in the days immediately following 9/11, but they were raw cries of the heart, and it took years before I felt comfortable shaping and publishing them as short stories in Love is Like Water.
The interview is available on the link below; I joined in the later half.  

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