Ari Belathar is a Mexican poet and playwright in exile. Between 1994 and 2001, she facilitated creative writing and popular theatre workshops for indigenous women and children throughout Mexico. She was also a founding member of the first Mexican community radio station during the student strike at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1999. After being kidnapped and tortured by the Mexican National Army in 2001 due to her work as a student activist and independent journalist, she escaped to Canada as a political refugee.
When she arrived in Toronto, she didn’t have a passport, didn’t know anybody in the entire country, and didn’t speak English. All she had were four dollars and a suitcase full of books… Belathar learnt English as an autodidact, without ever taking a single ESL class.
A winning-artist participant in Artscape’s Gibraltar Point International Artists Residency Program, she has published poetry in literary journals and anthologies around the world. Belathar served as Writer-in-Residence through PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile Network at the University of Windsor in 2006. That same year, she took part in the Wired Writing Studio at The Banff Centre for the Arts. In 2009, Brandon University in Manitoba appointed her as the university’s first Writer-in-Residence; as a result of this nine-month appointment, Belathar published a chapbook of poetry, The Cities I Left Behind by Radish Press.
In the summer of 2010, Scirocco Drama published The TAXI Project—a collective play about exile, originally produced by PEN Canada, with Ari Belathar as lead–writer. The TAXI Project enjoyed a two-week run at Alchemy Theatre in Toronto (2008), and toured high schools and community centres in ten southern Ontario cities and municipalities. Belathar’s work has been awarded support by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. In 2012 she was selected as Alameda Theatre Company’s Playwright in Residence (2012-2013 Toronto), as well as being invited to be part of Cahoots Theatre Playwrights’ HotHouse Writing Unit.
In the fall of 2013 she was among 27 internationally acclaimed artists that took part in The Arctic Circle expeditionary residency program to the North Pole. A Blue Mountain Center alumna, Ari Belathar now lives and writes in Cambridge, MA and is the 2016-2017 Poetry Fellow at the Writers’ Room of Boston