This is the second part of PR associate editor Leila Emery’s topic on Iran and Iranian American writers.

Ramin Jahanbegloo’s efforts to promote peaceful discourse between nations and to create more informed awareness about Iran are endeavors in which other Iranians, namely writers, are also participating in their own work. Not too long ago, I learned about the formation of the Association of Iranian American Writers (AIAW), a network of writers who have roots in Iran and American.

Iranian heritage is an important aspect of their identities, and many of them bring this to bear in their writing. In fact, for many of the Association’s writers, Iranian cultural and political issues are topics that are essential to their poetry and prose. To that end, the AIAW “[seeks] to ‘represent’ [itself] as a diverse, open, and progressive voice in the American community. [It seeks] to promote the building of coalitions and to collaborate with other groups and networks engaged with the arts, writing and publishing [for the purpose of] critical engagement and freedom of speech.”

The AIAW “[encourages] thoughtful interactions that promote and support efforts to bring Iranian-American voices to the North American arts scene”. Indeed, like Ramin Jahanbegloo and those before him, the Association recognizes “that literature is an invaluable tool for crossing cultural, national and linguistic boundaries, and for accessing parts of the human experience that might otherwise be obscured by powerful political agendas, prejudice and fear.”

As an Iranian American, I am thrilled to know that a literary organization of this nature exists in this day and age, and that AIAW is part of a tradition of writers “of conscience in times of war” who “understand the significance of our voices, and aim to use them in the pursuit of a more humane world”. In a year that has seen devastating brutality in the streets of Tehran, we need the voices of these brave writers more than ever in the continued struggle for democracy and freedom of expression.

I encourage you to visit AIAW’s website (http://www.iranianamericanwriters.org/), and check out the work of their featured members, like fiction writers Marjan Kamali and Parissa Ebrahimzadeh, poets Esther Kamkar and Zara Houshmand, and non-fiction writers Tissa Hami and Taha Ebrahimi.