The Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) recently announced the MSAC 2022 Independent Artist Award recipients. Susan Muaddi Darraj, Associate Professor of English at Harford Community College, was one of the two state awardees who will receive a $25,000 grant in recognition of outstanding artistic achievement. The grant will help support continued artistic growth. Susan is a former two-time recipient of MSAC Individual Artist Awards.
This year, MSAC is awarding $264,000 to 69 Maryland artists who represent a wide range of artistic talents from across the state. Twelve artists who have demonstrated notable artistic achievement will receive an award of $10,000, and 57 artists who have demonstrated promising work will receive an award of $2,000. Susan Muaddi Darraj was one of two state awardees chosen from the $10,000 regional winners to receive an additional $15,000 for her outstanding work.
There were nearly 300 applicants. A panel with a wide range of literary expertise from across the state reviewed and evaluated each eligible application.
Throughout her career, Muaddi Darraj has been recognized for her literary talent. Her short story collection, A Curious Land: Stories from Home, was named the winner of the AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, judged by Jaime Manrique. It also won the 2016 Arab American Book Award, a 2016 American Book Award, and was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. Her previous short story collection, The Inheritance of Exile, was published in 2007 by University of Notre Dame Press.
In 2018, she was named a Ford Fellow by USA Artists. She was also awarded a Rubys Artist Grant from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation.
In 2019, she launched the viral #TweetYourThobe social media campaign to promote Palestinian culture. Later that year, she was named winner of the Rose Nader Award by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), an award given by the Nader family to a person who “demonstrates an unwavering dedication and commitment to values of equality and justice.”
In January 2020, Capstone Books launched her debut children’s chapter book series, Farah Rocks, about a smart, brave Palestinian American girl named Farah Hajjar. The first book in the series, Farah Rocks Fifth Grade, made The Baltimore Sun’s “Books for the Beach” list.
In 2019, she penned a viral op-ed piece for Inside Higher Ed, titled “No Shame in Our Game,” about the importance and quality of a community college education. It can be read here: https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/05/31/people-higher-ed-should-stop-disdaining-those-who-attend-or-work-community
A 2018 USA Ford Fellow, Muaddi Darraj has also served as a Lecturer in the Johns Hopkins University’s MA in Writing program and as a faculty member in Fairfield University‘s MFA program.