Writer and artist Nawal Naffaa' was born in the northern Israeli village of Beit Jann; she lives in Haifa, where she works as a librarian at Gordon College. A graduate of the Oranim College Library School (1993), and the Haifa University Department of Creative Arts, she is currently completing her MFA.
Naffaa’s poetry has appeared in the journals Musharaf and Al-Carmel and in anthologies of writing by young Palestinian poets. She participated in the 2004 Helicon poetry workshops, and in Helicon’s 2003 and 2005 Sha‘ar festivals, receiving a Helicon fellowship for emerging Arab poets in 2005. Her poems have been translated into Hebrew and German for festival anthologies, and her drawings have been exhibited in group shows in Israel; she has written and illustrated three books for children.
About combining writing and the plastic arts, Naffaa' says, in her personal statement to the 7th International Jerusalem Poetry Festival: “I consider myself someone who creates in two languages – a visual one – in painting, and textual language – in poetry. Each language has its own existence, not necessarily dependent on the other or created through it. At times I try to merge the two, in the most straightforward way by illustrating the children’s books that I write, or by integrating texts or words into my paintings. But the most exciting way for me is painting within writing, using metaphor in poetry. As an element of poetry, metaphor is the artistic and creative element that I integrate into my writing. Overall, composing poetry makes it possible for me to rediscover my mother tongue – Arabic – and connects me to primary human feelings, those of a human being, in general, and those of a woman with a plethora of identities, in particular. Poetry has given me the freedom to reconstruct unique and fleeting moments, as in life itself, without needing to tell the whole story. Poetry for me is like lightning, which suddenly appears and vanishes just as suddenly and surprisingly, which strikes and also misses, insistent still that it be experienced like a melody.”