Baghdad raised Kifah Abdulla has traveled a harrowing and yet inspiring road from his Iraqi roots to become an American citizen four years ago. Since then he has been a guest of Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D) at the State of the Nation address in Washington, D.C. this year.
You will have an opportunity to hear his story for the first time at a book reading on Wednesday, March 11, beginning at 5:30 pm at Indigo Arts Alliance, 60 Cove Street. Copies of his first memoir will be available for purchase – “MOUNTAINS WITHOUT PEAKS” at the event. Abdulla started writing his book in 2017 and finished it at the end of 2018. He waited a year before publishing it, however. Don’t you love that title?
Abdulla earned a degree in biology in Baghdad. His dream was to work with the late Jacques Cousteau on his famous research vessel – Calypso. That didn’t work out. So he turned his energy to working as an artist.
As an activist during the Saddam Hussein regime, as a soldier during the Iran-Iraq War, and as a prisoner of war in Iran for eight years, Abdulla has escaped numerous near death experiences. “It was so difficult to be an artist and writer too during Saddam Hussein’s regime because of the propaganda and they wanted artists to be involved with their ideology. Many artists were killed, imprisoned or fled the country,” Abdulla said. He survived.
Although this blogger is squeamish about reading some memoirs, this one does not bear out that uneasiness. His memoir begins on the battlefield of the Iran-Iraq War and is poignant and uplifting, but not morose. “The writing process is a wonderful and important way to recover from trauma and fear. When we have the courage to write down about our trauma on paper, we make a big transition by moving it from inside our body and put it on paper and the same thing with art, another amazing process to heal,” he wrote in an email to mhn.com. He is a good writer with a way with words that is noteworthy.
Abdulla teaches Arabic at Southern Maine Community College and at Maine College of Art (MECA) – both are part-time posts. He has two sons, with one at least aspiring to teach.
He lives in downtown Portland and has for the past eight years. Currently, his book is available at Gulf of Maine Books, Maine Street, Brunswick. But he believes it will be more readily available in the near future in Portland.
“Life is wonderful: everyday that we live without pain is a gift, the most beautiful gift in the world, and a rebirth of the human spirit,” Abdulla stated in the preface of his book.