In an article published in this regard, she wrote, “It is strange that the authorities allow organizing such conferences. Still, the strangest thing is to invite officials who have not previously supported the cause of the Bedoon in any way. … The problem here is not in the solidarity work itself, but in its modalities, limits and nature.”
Kareem believes it is important for educational and cultural institutions to have a role in such moves. “Isn’t it important for the educated class, academics or jurists, to bypass the unilateral and negative nature of the rhetoric of ‘spreading awareness’ and replace it with a solidarity action from the heart of local institutions?” she wrote.
Kareem also continues to support all issues related to equality and justice in her literary and poetic works and even in her translation works, which include translations to English of Ashraf Fayyadh’s Instructions Within and a selection of poems by the Iraqi poet Ra’ad Abdel Qader, and translations to Arabic of poems by Alejandra Pizarnik, an Argentinian poet, and the novel Kindred, by Octavia Butler, a Black American science fiction writer.
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Filling a Gap in Translations to Arabic
Kareem is keen to excavate and present different and exceptional critical insights, according to Ahmed Nagy, a U.S.-based Egyptian writer.
“Kareem noticed a serious problem in Western books translated into Arabic, that they are mostly written by white men,” he said. “She realized that we have a gap in the translated heritage of Arabic for other genres of writings by authors who are Blacks, women, gay, and those questioning their sexual identities.”
In 2015, Kareem wrote “Manifesto Against Women,” an essay denouncing racist, traditional and submissive women. In it, she says, “I write against the woman who brazenly thinks that we are one; the one whose back is swollen over a comfortable chair among the characteristics of citizenship, class and race. Against the Gulf ‘sponsor’ who goes to work and becomes a good citizen and a liberal woman at the expense of Asian women working at her home, or goes on vacation and is excluded from working at night shifts at the expense of an Indian or Egyptian immigrant; against a woman who cries about suffering from polygamy rather than her having many housemaids. This woman resembles her country and class, not other women.”
Recently, Kareem released Femme Ghosts, a trilingual poetry chapbook in Dutch, Arabic and English.
Alexandra Chreiteh, an acclaimed Lebanese author and assistant professor of Arabic studies at Tufts University, believes that Kareem is breaking new ground in all of her roles; poet, academic, critic, translator and short story writer.
“She is an important voice we must listen to,” said Chreiteh. “Her third collection, What I’m Sleeping for Today (in Arabic), raises sensitive topics about identity and immigration, and the meaning of home, family and body. I paused for a long time, perhaps for months, as I kept thinking about this collection and its different vision that opens new meanings through the language that I could not imagine.”
Today, along with her literary and human-rights activism, Kareem is keen to be a part of the American literary scene, especially because she is a bilingual writer. “Part of my life now is to integrate here in the United States of America with society and to have a voice and opinion, not just someone waiting to return,” said Kareem. “I am an American here, and I am an Arab in the Arab world.”