2023 Calgary Peace Prize

The 2023 Calgary Peace Prize recognizes Mohammed El-Kurd for his exemplary contribution toward peace and justice in the struggle for a more humane, dignified, and free life for oppressed people in Palestine and beyond.

The event was held on May 18, 2023. Mohammed El-Kurd was joined by panelists Desmond Cole, Yara Hawari, Erica Violet Lee, and Rinaldo Walcott for a discussion on the meaning of a just peace, the role of art in the struggle for peace and justice, the intersectionality of Black, Indigenous and Palestinian struggles, and much more.

You can watch the full event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XieNlAJp74 

Mr. El-Kurd is an internationally touring and award-winning poet, writer, journalist, and organizer from Jerusalem, occupied Palestine. In 2021, He was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine. TIME states that along with his sister, Mr. El-Kurd “provided the world with a window into living under occupation in East Jerusalem this spring [2021]—helping to prompt an international shift in rhetoric in regard to Israel and Palestine.”

He is well known for his role as a co-founder of the #SaveSheikhJarrah movement. In their interview with Mr. El-Kurd, Jewish Currents describes this campaign: “In October 2020, the Israeli magistrate court of Jerusalem, a fixture of its apartheid legal system, ruled that half of the Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah would be dispossessed of their homes. Among them was the family of writer and activist Mohammed El-Kurd. When the ruling came down, Mohammed, who is now 23 years old, joined with his twin sister Muna and other community members to mount the #SaveSheikhJarrah campaign, which broadcast the conditions of Palestinian life under occupation and galvanized support for resistance against settler land theft.” His work has been featured in numerous international outlets and he has appeared repeatedly as a commentator on major TV networks such as CNN, BBC, and MSNBC. Currently, El-Kurd serves as the first-ever Palestine Correspondent for The Nation. His first published essay in this role, “A Night with Palestine’s Defenders of the Mountain,” was shortlisted for the 2022 One World Media Print Award.

RIFQA, his debut collection of poetry, was published by Haymarket Books in October 2021 and was later released in Italian by Fandango Libre. RIFQA was named “a masterpiece” by The New Arab and a “remarkable debut” by the Los Angeles Review of Books. It was one of Middle East Eye’s “Best Books of 2021” and was shortlisted for the 2022 Forward Prize for “Best First Collection.” In the foreword to the book, Aja Monet writes, “May these poems challenge and awaken you. May they shake you into action. May they help you find the words for what you already know to be true.” In her endorsement of the book, Hala Alyan writes, “Rifqa is an absolute marvel, and El-Kurd is precisely the kind of poet— Palestinian or otherwise—we need right now: unafraid of the truth.”

El-Kurd holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College (CUNY) and a BFA in Writing from Atlanta’s Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Arab American Civil Council’s “Truth in Media” Award (2022), as well as the Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation (2023). He is currently a Civic Media Fellow at the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California. El-Kurd has lectured and performed around the world including as the keynote for the 18th Annual Edward Said Memorial Lecture at Princeton University, at the Internazionale literary festival in Ferrara, Italy, and recently at Adelaide Writers’ Week in Australia.