Ruth Awad

Ruth Awad

Photo by Kate Sweeney


Ruth Awad is the Lebanese American author of Set to Music a Wildfire (Southern Indiana Review Press, 2017), winner of the 2016 Michael Waters Poetry Prize and the 2018 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. Alongside Rachel Mennies, she is the co-editor of The Familiar Wild: On Dogs and Poetry (Sundress Publications, 2020). She is the recipient of a 2020 and 2016 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, and she won the 2013 and 2012 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and the 2011 Copper Nickel Poetry Contest. Her work appears in Poetry, Poem-a-Day, the Believer, the New Republic, Pleiades, the Missouri Review, the Rumpus, and elsewhere. She has an MFA in poetry from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and she lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio, with her beloved Pomeranians.

The Lebanese Civil War displaced 600,000 to 900,000 people, my father among them. After years of writing and researching about the war and interviewing my father, my second book engages the diaspora through my hyphenated identity: the borderless space across cultures, countries; a language for the experience between worlds. It’s an archival project of sorts, to name, through poetry, what has eluded me most of my life. To excavate the psychic weight and harm of assimilation. To map what has been lost and what has survived.

I’ve found poetry can be a refuge, a common tongue, a chorus of resistance, a path forward. Through poetry, I’ve been buoyed by my brilliant peers, community, teachers, mentors, and institutions. This gift from the National Endowment for the Arts allows me to spend more time writing and imagining and learning. It gives me the financial freedom to invest more of my time developing my second book. I’m grateful such life-changing support for the arts still exists, and that it has benefitted so many luminaries who’ve made my work possible. I’m honored to continue.