Laila Dahan

Our next Motherly Musing's interview is with author Laila Dahan: 

 1) Tell us a bit about the pieces you have in Motherly Musings.  What was the inspiration for your work, and do you have any comments or thoughts about your featured work that you would like to share with readers?

My poems were all inspired by my two sons. My oldest, Saif who is thirteen, has Asperger’s Syndrome, part of the autistic spectrum, so I wrote one specifically for him. Omar is my eight year old. They are both an inspiration to me for many reasons.  Saif is an inspiration because no matter how difficult and complicated life can be for him at times, he tries really hard to understand the many undecipherable messages he gets. Omar is a wonderful child because he is caring and understanding of his brother’s issues and tries to help him through.

2)  How long have you been writing and how did you get started?

I started keeping a journal back in fifth grade, so I think my writing started there. In university I loved to write papers of all sorts both research and essays. I had a very interesting and sometimes difficult childhood and upbringing, and I think my writing gave me an outlet.

3)  In general, the pieces that appear in Motherly Musings are about parenting, mothers, or children.  Does this theme permeate your other writing? What other themes and ideas influence your work?
I think family is a large part of my work. I wrote a book about my mother’s life, and that was a big endeavour, but one which I needed to complete for my sons and my nieces and nephew. My parents have been gone a long time, so I felt their stories were important to save and share. However, since I teach at a university I also write for academic journals on various subjects including: academic writing, global English, intercultural communication, and politics in the Middle East.

 4)  Are you working on any other writing projects at the moment?

At the moment I am attempting to write my PhD dissertation on language and identity among Arab students in the United Arab Emirates. This continues to be a major project, but one I hope to complete in the next year or two. I do already have another book in the planning stages about my son and his life and ours living with Aspergers Syndrome.

5) What is your greatest challenge as writer?

Finding time. It is hard to be a full time teacher, full time mother, wife, part time graduate student and still write. However, I enjoy it, so I don’t allow the fact that I have no time to stop me!
 6)  What are you reading right now?  (Don't be shy--Good Night Moon and  People Magazine count! :-)

Of course I read a lot of journal articles and books about language and identity as that is my dissertation topic, but on the side I am reading Kitty Kelly’s The Royals. It is a little history, a little fantasy, something to keep me distracted when I have a few moments!
7) Any final thoughts, advice, or comments you'd like to leave our readers with?

I just wish for us all the continued joys of motherhood and the time and space to write and reflect on the many things we love in life. 


Laila teaches composition in the Department of Writing Studies at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), United Arab Emirates. She has MA degrees in TESOL and in International Relations. She is currently pursuing her PhD in language education through the University of Exeter (UK). Her research interests include: international education, global English, language and identity, and teaching writing. She is the author of several journal articles and the book Keep Your Feet Hidden: A Southern Belle on the Shores of Tripoli (2009), which is a biography of her American mother’s journey to Libya and her life there. Laila and her immediate family left Libya over 30 years ago, but she still has relatives there. She is the co-editor of the recently released book Global English and Arabic: Issues of Language, Culture, and Identity (2011). She has lived in the UAE for nearly 13 years with her husband and two sons.

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