New Voices in Concord

On April 29, 2019, New Hampshire poets Maura MacNeil and Ewa Chrusciel read with four new immigrant writers to Concord in New Hampshire Humanities' “New Voices” project. Nawras Altaher, Federica Odetti, Fatima Ejam, and Sophia Bomba presented original poetry about home and the journeys of their lives.

“New Voices” is an extension of the New Hampshire Humanities' Connections reading and book discussion program, bringing an opportunity to students learning English to develop their own stories. Professional writers meet immigrant writers, learn from each other, edit words for power and clarity, and explore ways that bilingual writers bring new creativity to expression in English. In “New Voices” readings, writers introduce and read with new writers from around the world.

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Maura MacNeil is the author of the poetry collections: A History of Water (Finishing Line Press, 2007), Lost Houses (Aldrich Press, 2016), and the forthcoming chapbook This Last Place (Dancing Girl Press). Her poetry, prose, and critical writing has been published and anthologized in numerous publications over the past three decades and she is founder of the website off the margins that features writing and from women who “fearlessly tell the truth and risk vulnerability to give voice to their experience.” Maura is a professor of creative writing at New England College in Henniker, NH.

Ewa Chrusciel is a poet, teacher and translator. She has three books of poems in English: Of Annunciations (Omnidawn 2017), Contraband of Hoopoe (Omnidawn 2014), Strata (Emergency Press 2009, reprinted by Omnidawn in April 2018), as well as three books in Polish: Tobołek, Sopiłki, Furkot. Her book Contraband of Hoopoe, translated into Italian by Anna Aresi, is forthcoming in Italy with Edizioni Ensemble in March 2019. Her newest book in English, Of Annunciations, is a series of prayers, laments, and lullabies addressing our current migration crises.


Nawras Altaher was born in Babylon, Iraq where she was a wife, mother and domestic artist. She arrived in the United States in 2010 with her husband and two children. She started her studies in Manchester at the NH Institute, and when she moved to Concord, NH she became a mother to a third child and resumed her studies through the Second Start program. She is the granddaughter of Al Jawad Al Taher, a famous Iraqi writer and scholar, and is continuing the family legacy of becoming a writer.

Sophia Bomba was born Poznan, Poland. She worked as a neurologist before she arrived in the United States two years ago and settled in Concord, NH. She is a Roman Catholic.

Federica Odetti was born and raised in a small town near Turin, Italy. She moved to the USA with her husband in May 2018, following their shared passion for knowing different cultures. After an education and a career built on numbers, Federica decided to explore new paths starting to play with words.

Fatima R. Ejam is a student at Concord High School. She is a softball player on the freshman team and is 14 years old.




In Italian Letizia is a first name, but
it is also a word that means "Joy."
It was my grandmother's name,
and the poem is for her.


By Federica Odetti 

The joy of a moment
a moment that is a gift.
I lie on your lap
you cherish my hair. 

The joy of a moment
a moment that is a gift.
The loving cuddles of that night
what a wonderful greeting! 

The joy of a moment
a moment that is a gift.
The memory of your love
alive in my heart.

The joy of that moment.
I call it Letizia. 


I Carried

By Nawras Altaher

I carried Quran I carry Arabia books
I carried hijabs I carry prayer rugs
I carried wealth I carry jewelry, golds
I carried kids’s toys I carry pictures
I carried astekon I carry tea kettle set
I carried 4 forks I carry 4 spoons
I carried date I carry dry lemon
I carried chamomile I carry laptop
I carried electric converter I carry DVDs
I carried falafel machine I carry comb
I carried the hopes for new life
I carry the strongest inside myself regarding the scared drawing on my family’s face
I carried my kids laughs I carry my tears inside myself for leaving my family in Iraq
I carried the fears of the planets voice that reminded me of aerial bombardment
I carried the terrified of the alarming sound that reminded me of the air raids.