Taking back the streets of Beirut

This a very relevant and hopeful piece about a tagger in Beirut who is doing a whole lot more than spraying paint on walls – he is giving back a cultural focus to his community by replacing political posters with portraits of real local people combined with three different types of Arabic calligraphy to create a beautiful melange of what it means to be human in Beirut.

This is what good art is supposed to do! He even has a pass from the local government, who will leave his existing pieces alone, and allow him to create more without fear of reprisal. Read the story below, for something exciting and hopeful.

Iain Akerman

Yazan1Photograph: Yazan Halwani’s ‘Fairuz’ in Gemmayze

“There is an alternative voice rising,” says Yazan Halwani, the young Lebanese street artist. “I’m not going to say that what I do is going to free Lebanon or change the sectarian political system, or fix any regional problem, it’s far from that. But it tells people that you don’t have to accept what’s already there.”

Halwani has just finished university for the day when we catch up, his English carrying more than the hint of a French accent. On occasion he talks 19 to the dozen, such is his passion for graffiti, calligraphy and the reclamation of Beirut’s streets from the clutches of the city’s myriad political parties. For an alternative voice, he is both endearing and charismatic.

Following a brief misunderstanding in February this year, the possibility that much of his work – and that of other graffiti artists – would be removed…

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Bondage – What’s a Girl to do?

A beautiful start to a new day in the arctic, but how could you tell, if the sun was up all the time.She yawned and stretched, it was so cold, her teeth were chattering like wood peckers – loud and hard, her knees knocking as her legs trembled. It didn’t matter that she was wearing the latest nanobits that were guaranteed to keep her effortlessly comfortable from the hottest desert to the frostiest glaciers, she was still bloody cold.

And what was all this sunshine all about? Who ever heard of a day lasting twenty four hours. She caught a shadow out of the corner of her eye. Turning her head to the left, she only saw miles upon miles of ice and snow. “It must have been the shadow of a bird”, she thought, as she turned back to the group of mercenaries that she had hired to take her across the ice to kill her former husband, Ike.

“Faith, I don’t like this cold. We have been searching for your husband for two weeks, and…no sign of him. Do you know where he is Faith? I am done wasting my time leading you around. You’ve run out of money and you’ve run out of anything else that I’m interested in”, he said. He looked at her like an auctioneer looks at a new item, to see if it has any value at all.

“Well all right then,” he said, as he grabbed a rope from his pack and bound not just her hands and her feet, but virtually everything.

“This is the way the Cerocevi tie their women. I will leave you at a crossroads for someone to find.” The next thing Faith knew, a pain exploded in her head, and then lights, out.

To Be Continued……

On Teaching the Graphic Novel

This is the perfect description of both the graphic novel and of comics. For anyone who wants to get involved with this genre, take a peek at the list in this post, and look up some of the graphic novels and comics that he suggests. It is quite a long list.

The one thing that I did not know that I found amazing, is that the drawings are able to provide a visual illusion or pun that prose cannot, and therefore is a medium all unto itself. This is an incredibly valuable piece by a college professor at Amherst who taught Graphic Novels as a class.


About once a month, I get asked by a colleague or friend for the syllabus I used to teach my seminar on the Graphic Novel at Amherst. Included below is a list of the texts that I used to teach students. In that seminar I allowed optional creative exercises and finals, and that led to me teaching tutorials in the making of comics, which led to me advising two graphic novel theses to summa honors. I’m very proud of those students, who were both also awarded the English Department’s prize for best thesis. Amherst’s English department was very generous and supportive in the teaching I did there throughout, and I’m incredibly grateful for the hard work of all of my students.

I taught the class as an experiment, even an expedition of a kind, and so it was never the same every time. I began teaching it because more graphic novels…

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