Episode 24: Ari Mokdad and Frank Abe

We are thrilled to be back this year for another year of conversations with artists, writers, and creatives in residence at Centrum’s Artist Residency Program.

This year, we bring you a series of five conversations held in October 2022 among our cohort of Emerging Artists and Writers who took a moment out of their residencies to pair up and talk process and share experiences related to their various practices.

Ari Mokdad and Frank Abe discuss the poignant ways that their respective family histories have played significantly into the themes and approaches of their work. Both residents discuss their range in processes to screenwriting, poetry, and the multiple disciplines they’ve each engaged with over their careers.

Frank Abe

Frank Abe has worked to reframe the public’s understanding of the WW2 incarceration of Japanese Americans ever since helping create the first Day of Remembrance for the camps in the campaign for redress and reparations. He is co-author of a new graphic novel, “WE HEREBY REFUSE: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration” (Chin Music Press, 2021) and wrote and directed the award-winning documentary “Conscience and the Constitution” (PBS, 2000) on the largest organized resistance to the camps. He won an American Book Award as co-editor of “JOHN OKADA: The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy” (University of Washington Press, 2018) and is currently co-editing a new anthology of camp literature for Penguin Classics. For his Centrum residency he will be working on a project to to bring those stories to the stage. He’s contributed to Ishmael Reed’s Konch Magazine, The Bloomsbury Review, and others, and is a past attendee of the Port Townsend Writers Conference. He blogs at

Ari L Mokdad

Ari L Mokdad is a Detroit-born poet, choreographer, dancer, and performance artist. She is a first-generation American and daughter of Lebanese immigrants. Ari graduated from Grand Valley State University with a BA in Dance, English, and Writing. She received an MA in English from Wayne State University and is currently completing her MFA at Warren Wilson College. Ari’s creative work coalesces around nature, identity, place, and embodiment. She is an active naturalist and maintains an apiary, greenhouse, and heirloom garden. Ari lives with her partner in Northern Michigan on the ancestral and unceded land of the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Pottawatomie people, The People of the Three Fires.

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