The Contest of the Fruits Book Launch (in-person)

By Haverford College's Hurford Center (other events)

Friday, November 5 2021 5:30 PM 7:30 PM EST

Join us for the official book launch for the Haverford College and MIT Press publication The Contest of the Fruits. 

We look forward to celebrating the launch of The Contest of the Fruits publication with poets Tahir Hamut Izgil and Munawwar Abdulla, and translator Joshua Freeman. Tahir and Munawwar will read a few of their poems, some of which are included in the book and others of which will be new to many. Following this warm welcome, Twelve Gates Arts will be serving fresh Ayran and be open for informal conversations around the book and Slavs and Tatars: Bacteria Bar exhibition. 

The book brings together artists, academics, poets, and performers to create a visually compelling volume that deploys different registers (high and low) to examine subjects often considered mutually exclusive (for example, religion and hip-hop). It offers essays by leading scholars and journalists that cover topics ranging from language politics to the prominence of Uyghur rappers in China. Shorter “pop-out” texts take a more tentacular approach to Uyghur culture, sampling poetry by diaspora Uyghur poets and discussing such subjects as calligraphy, Uyghur pop music, mäshräp, and the Sufi practice of Sama.

Have you seen The Contest of the Fruits tote bags out in the wild and wondered "where's mine!?" Don't worry--we've got you covered. Purchase a copy of The Contest of the Fruits at the book launch, and carry it home in your own complimentary tote! If you can't make it to the event, you can order your copy (sans tote) HERE

About our special guests: 

Munawwar Abdulla is a lab manager and RT in an evolutionary neuroscience lab at Harvard University. She holds a BSc from the Australian National University and an MSc from UNSW Sydney. When she is not working with dog and fox brains, Munawwar is knee deep in projects surrounding Uyghur activism and community building. She co-founded The Tarim Network, runs Uyghur Collective, and collaborates on projects with many Uyghur rights organisations around the world. She also has a keen interest in poetry and literary translation. Her writings have been published in various places such as SubbedIn, Cordite Poetry Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Diplomat, Overachiever Magazine, and Rabbit Poetry Journal.

Tahir Hamut Izgil, one of the foremost poets in the Uyghur language, grew up in Kashgar, an ancient city in the southwest of the Uyghur homeland. After college in Beijing, he returned to the Uyghur region and in the late 1990s and 2000s emerged as a prominent film director, perhaps best known for the pathbreaking drama The Moon Is a Witness (Ay guwah). His poetry has appeared in English translation in The New York Review of Books, Asymptote, Gulf Coast, Berkeley Poetry Review, and elsewhere. In 2017, as the Chinese state began the mass internment of Uyghur intellectuals, Izgil fled with his family to the United States. He now works as a producer at Radio Free Asia while continuing his literary work.

Joshua L. Freeman is a historian of China and Inner Asia and a translator of Uyghur poetry. He is currently a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow at the Princeton Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and a lecturer in Princeton’s East Asian Studies Department. He received his PhD at Harvard University, and is currently at work on a book manuscript entitled Print Communism: Uyghur National Culture in Twentieth-Century China. His translations of contemporary Uyghur poetry have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The Southern Review, Asymptote, Crazyhorse, Words Without Borders, and elsewhere. 


The Contest of the Fruits takes a nineteenth-century Uyghur allegorical poem as the point of departure for investigations into language, politics, religion, humor, resilience, and resistance in a pluralistic world. It includes a virtual series, publication, new animation work, and exhibition at Haverford’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery by renowned artist collective Slavs and Tatars in partnership with Haverford College’s Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities, Twelve Gates Arts, and the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia)

The Contest of the Fruits exhibit runs from September 10th - December 12, 2021. All exhibits and events are free and open to the public. For full schedule details and locations, visit: you have any questions or issues registering, please email: [email protected] 

The Contest of the Fruits is supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

Visitors to The Contest of the Fruits exhibition and related in-person programming are required to wear masks at all times while indoors. Visitors should practice social distancing when interacting with anyone outside their family. If you or anyone in your group feels unwell, thinks they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or are waiting for COVID-19 test results, please refrain from visiting and reschedule your visit for another time.


Haverford College's Hurford Center