Rima Rantisi

Artist in Residence, 2024

Artist Statement

I am an essayist whose work zooms in on the personal quotidian in relationship to the lived experience of contemporary political events. My narratives are inspired by the built and natural environment as well as relationships that are rooted in intergenerational inheritances. I look to writing to travel through the mind toward connections between the personal, the environment, and political events in the attempt to write present-day histories and narratives.

My essay collection builds on the tradition and contemporary craft of personal essays and is uniquely set in large part in Beirut during a poignant and charged moment in Lebanon’s history. The collection draws on personal history, current events, and philosophical research to both bring the character of the city to life and illustrate how the personal can be memorialized in juxtaposition and in service to contemporary political events, highlighting their entanglements and intimacies and the personal essay’s ability to tell deeper truths.


While at Headlands

While at Headlands, I will work on my book of interrelated essays on motherhood with sub-themes of home, health, and revolution titled You Were There, Before. As the narrator flips between place and time from Beirut, where she is a new mother, to her former life in the US and her childhood, where her own mother features prominently, motherhood comes into view as a liminal space. 

Seven years in the making, as long as I have been a mother, I look forward to Headlands for the time and the inspiration of the natural environment to make headway on completing this collection of essays. In addition, I will consult with my residency peers to imagine ways of incorporating a visual component to the book.

Links to published work:

Jan 2023, “Shitbag,” Co-published by Megaphone and Rusted Radishes: Beirut Literary and Art Journal

Jun 2022, “Waiting,” New England Review, Vol. 43.2

Jun 2021, “Inside the (Seismic) Shift,” Slag Glass City

Aug 2020, “Losing Beirut: On Life in a Shattered City,” Literary Hub