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Erika Rasmussen, Kishann Rai, Danna D'Esopo, Jules Xenakis, Huda Al-Marashi, Ally O'Connor, Kirk Glaser, Annie Leowen, and Dhanush Shetty pose for a group photo

Erika Rasmussen, Kishann Rai, Danna D'Esopo, Jules Xenakis, Huda Al-Marashi, Ally O'Connor, Kirk Glaser, Annie Leowen, and Dhanush Shetty pose for a group photo

Relationships, Writing, and the Creative Process

Memoirist Huda Al-Marashi ’98 visited campus to share her experiences and advice with students and the SCU community as this Fall’s “Writing Forward Reading Series” speaker.

Memoirist Huda Al-Marashi ’98 visited campus to share her experiences and advice with students and the SCU community as this Fall’s “Writing Forward Reading Series” speaker.

By Ally O’Connor ’20

Huda Al-Marashi and Ally O'Connor
Santa Clara Review Editor-in-Chief Ally O'Connor leads Q&A with memorist Huda Al-Marashi

On November 7, 2019, memoirist and Santa Clara University alumna Huda Al-Marashi ’98 spent the day on campus as the guest speaker for the Fall “Writing Forward Reading Series,” co-hosted by the English Department’s Creative Writing Program, the University Library, and the Santa Clara Review Al-Marashi, who studied history at SCU, published her book, First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story last year, and centered her presentations around its content and creative process.

A vulnerable work, First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story, centers around Al-Marashi’s arranged marriage and her experience of growing up in Muslim-American culture.  She writes about her years at SCU and challenges romantic stereotypes, as she tells a love story that is both humanizing and beautiful.

Beginning her day with a publishing lecture, Al-Marashi spent time in the Santa Clara Review office sharing with students interested in writing. In her discussion, she explained the joys and challenges of sharing creative work and passed on details about the process of working with agents and publishing companies. After listening to Al-Marashi, Santa Clara Review Fiction Editor Danna D’Esopo ’20 (English) shared that “as a writer who aspires to be published one day, listening to Huda’s talk gave me a lot of perspective and advice for how to navigate the publishing industry.” 

Following her first presentation, Al-Marashi attended a dinner with a small group of librarians and Santa Clara Review staff members before the official “Writing Forward Reading Series” evening event. At 7:00 p.m., guests filled the Library’s St. Clare Room and listened to Al-Marashi read from her memoir, discuss her life, and share advice for others in similar religious and familial situations. 

Reflecting upon the day, Santa Clara Review Faculty Advisor Dr. Kirk Glaser (English) shares that Al-Marashi “is a delight to spend time with.  She's a very engaging conversationalist—full of interesting stories and advice and a great listener.”  Moreover, Glaser notes that Al-Marashi “gave of herself generously to our students, first in her talk on publishing that was at once personal and full of great professional advice, then in her evening presentation.  Her reading and talk were a wonderful mix of her creative writing and personal process as a writer and Iraqi-American woman, along with nuanced critique about our culture, particularly around questions of relationships and identity.”

Both of Al-Marashi’s presentations were recorded and can be viewed on the Santa Clara Review’s website.  Her memoir can be purchased on Amazon, and a previously unreleased chapter will be published in Volume 107 Issue 1 of the Santa Clara Review.

Erika Rasmussen, Kishann Rai, Danna D'Esopo, Jules Xenakis, Huda Al-Marashi, Ally O'Connor, Kirk Glaser, Annie Leowen, and Dhanush Shetty pose for a group photo