Artist Statement

            What does it mean to be an Assyrian-American poet? I find myself constantly prying for the answer. My current work is a reflection of this exploration; the exploration of the self, of Assyrian culture, and of what it all means in the present. My grandparents immigrated to the states from Baghdad, Iraq, and met each other in the Assyrian community in Chicago. I grew up detached from my culture because of the assimilation of my father, but grew curious in my undergraduate years. My motivation for my current work stems from this urge to know who I am, and this urge to experience my culture in its entirety. It thrives under inspirations from Terrance Haye’s American Sonnets for my Past and Future Assassin, and Nikki Wallschlaeger’s Crawlspace. I’m drawing from Haye’s ability to protest loudly in the confines of the page, and Wallschlaeger’s ability to be abstract and tie in cultural nuance’s boldly. What I’m doing differently, however, is crafting a cultural voice that I don’t see in today’s literary world: the queer Assyrian-American poet. While I am able to take what I can from both Hayes and Wallschlaeger, I am also able to be a voice for my culture in a way that confronts its flaws and challenges my own personal battles against them.