With throats as dry and parched as the An-Nafud Desert itself the greatest mass of sand on the planet, where sand dunes exceed 100 feet in height in a searing heat, countless women in Saudi Arabia yearn for their own "unfurling," to wield their own voice, gain their own power and yield of life, of personal exploration and contentment.
Against this vacant background of unheard dreams and unvoiced desires, comes a woman whose poetry itself signals change, whose ideals invoke attention and whose presence defies the past.
This is the story, the life and the path of Nimah Ismail Nawwab, a poet, writer and photographer who will be coming to Montgomery College to lecture on her newest book, "The Unfurling," a collection of poetry on women, freedom, Arabian society, and the younger generation of Saudis interspersed with universal themes of love, loss and simple joys.
Linking people together through her poems of the heart, Nimah moves across the inner landscape of the hearts and minds of people everywhere, addressing topics of religion, culture, belief, gender, family and pluralism while reflecting faith, hope, fear, expectations, disappointments and dreams of many ordinary Muslims and non-Muslims today.
"The major focus of Montgomery College is to broaden and internationalize events and curriculum for students. The college is going through a strategic planning phase focusing on international culture that is becoming first and foremost to what we want to offer our students," said Steve Scheffler, director of college relations.
Nimah, deeply rooted in the Arab world, possesses the widest possible horizon of education and travel, writing in literary English and expressing a highly individualized consciousness that is both Arab and cosmopolitan, both Islamic and liberally humanist.
"Nimah is remarkable in that she is a woman, an Arab woman, who is well educated and comes from a well-educated family, who has the ability to express life experiences that paint a reflective picture of her culture and country," said Jennifer Gigliotti, director of Education Outreach for the World Affairs Council in Houston. "She is a 'cultural ambassador' if you will, who connects easily with students. What is most remarkable is that she is the first female poet in Saudi Arabia to have ever had a public book signing at one of the largest bookstores, the Jarir bookstore, which was truly a ground-breaking event."
In addition to addressing students at Montgomery College, Nimah will also visit The Woodlands High School McCullough campus, as well as Rice University and other schools and colleges.
"At the very basic level, the college is looking to Nimah Ismail Nawwab to introduce a voice not heard on campus before, and at its most heightened, we are hoping that people become more interested in poetry as a vehicle for exploring other cultures," said Dr. Ross-Nazzal, associate professor of history for Montgomery College and director of the Middle East Center. "She gives insights from a nonofficial source. Her eyes, her ears, her heart, all her experiences are attuned to an unofficial source as to what is going on.
"She has one foot in the land of an Islam nation with another foot in a non-Islam world."
Nimah will be at Montgomery College Feb. 3. The event will take place in Building F, room 103 (Atrium), from 10-11 a.m. The college is located at 3200 College Park Drive, a quarter-mile west of Interstate 45, between Conroe and The Woodlands. This event is made possible by the World Affairs Council and is free and open to the public. Call (936) 273-7000 to learn more.