MY SHADOW IS A WORD WRITING ITSELF ACROSS TIME
I wrote a poem for a video project by the wonderful artist Gazelle Samizay, based on her footage of Manzanar, the site of the largest Japanese concentration camp in the US. Manzanar has been the site of multiple oppressions, including the forced removal of 1,000 Paiute Indians to make way for farmers and ranchers in 1863, and forcing ranchers and miners to relocate when the City of Los Angeles purchased the water rights to the area in 1929. The landscape is also eerily reminiscent of Afghanistan--the mountains against the open blue sky, the dry earth, but also the landscape of forgetting.
Gazelle: "Whether it is the incarceration of Japanese Americans or the US’s longest war, injustices are made invisible, normalized and forgotten. Standing in Manzanar meant standing at the intersection of these histories of aggression. It meant confronting the grief, anger, and betrayal embedded in the land beneath our feet. What is denied does not disappear; what is buried must surface. What would it take--and what would it mean--for the U.S. to face its shadows? Tracing my own shadow with the searching words of Afghan American poet, Sahar Muradi, I began to explore this question."
OF SOIL AND TONGUES
My dear friend and the stellar artist Laimah Osman and I collaborated for a show at Hampshire College Art Gallery called Of Soil and Tongues. The exhibit brings together 3 alums, including Miatta Kawinzi and lê thi diem thúy, to consider poetry in three-dimensional space--as a heard, performed, read, graphic, and embodied medium. It's curated by Amy Halliday and Jocelyn Edens and runs from June 1 to October 1, 2017. Laimah and I created two series of monotypes based on two of my poems.
THE WONDER OF BEING SEVERAL | زیبایی چندین بودن
I collaborated with artist Sarah Saltzman on this handmade book. It is a celebration of—an adoration for—the beauty of Dari, one of the languages spoken in Afghanistan. Dari is filled with compound words: two or more words combined to create a new meaning. In Dari, these constructions have an uncommonly poetic flavor. A bat is a leather butterfly, a turtle a stone frog. Out of disparate images a new hybrid is born. And so, we simultaneously celebrate the compound: the wonder of being several.
KUNDIMAN POSTCARD EXCHANGE
Every year, Kundiman, an organization dedicated to the creation and cultivation of Asian American creative writing, offers a postcard exchange among its fellows. You write a postcard poem/story each day for a month to a fellow writer. The theme for 2017 was Because We Come From Everything: Poetry & Migration. We wrote and mail postcard poems highlighting the theme of migration.