Learn a little more about our 2021 Editorial Residents: Sanam Sheriff, Brian Dang, Bobuq Sayed, LiAnne Yu, hannah rubin, Rabia Saeed, Ariana Benson, and Saba Keramati.
Each of these writers came to our Issue 14 topic, “Economies of Harm,” from a unique perspective and with a distinct voice; our hope was that their collective energies would help to set the tone for our issue. These eight residents will be among the 16 voices we publish for Issue 14, which launches in November 2021. Below, learn a little more about our eight extraordinary residents, and why we were so excited to bring them together for this virtual residency.
Sanam Sheriff is a queer poet and artist from Bangalore, India. She has received support from the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, The Watering Hole, Pink Door, and is a Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Virginia Quarterly Review, The Academy of American Poets, The Offing, Vinyl Poetry & Prose, Black Warrior Review, Kweli Journal, Shade Literary Arts, DW B, and elsewhere. Sanam holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis. She believes we can preserve our imaginations by creating them. Poetry is her closest translation.
“Poetry is an experience of change,” Sanam wrote to us. “Through page, stage, or screen, what gets transferred carries within it the ability to transform not only who it comes from, but also whom it encounters.” While we can attest to this—as Sanam’s poetry struck deep chords with our editorial team and selection committee—it was also her words about writing that caused us beautiful moments of pause: “the intangible feeling of wonder that occurs when you allow a piece of art to change you before considering what could be changed about it.”
Brian Dang (they/them) is a Vietnamese/Chinese playwright, poet, mentor, and mutual-aid worker based in Duwamish Territory (Seattle). Brian is a proud resident playwright at Parley. For Brian, writing is an act of envisioning an eventual communing and an opportunity to freeze time as we know it. Their writing has been workshopped with Seattle Opera, Pork Filled Productions, Karen’s Secret Army, Theatre Battery, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Brian was a 2020-21 Hugo House Fellow. Their play h*llo k*tty syndrome was supported by 4Culture and Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. Their next project, 49 words I wish I could write in my family’s language, will be supported through 4Culture and the Seattle CityArtist program. They’re grateful for having somehow convinced the world they can read and write.
“If we have work, and can take care of our families, what else do we need?” Brian wrote to us. “What else do we need? Are the only options death and labor? Is there anything else?” Brian’s work is thought-provoking, experimental, and inquisitive. We were especially taken by their nuanced way of broaching topics like complicity, survival, immigrant realities, and the war economy, and by their insistence on claiming joy amid it all.
Born in West Australia to Afghan refugees, Bobuq Sayed is a freelance writer, artist and a former editor of Un Magazine and Archer Magazine. They have received fellowships and residencies from the Wheeler Centre, Firstdraft Gallery, Punctum, Kundiman, Tin House, and the VONA/Voices foundation, and their work has been published and performed widely. Bobuq is a Michener Fellow in the MFA program at the University of Miami, where they edit fiction for the literary magazine Sinking City.
“I do not believe a writer needs a cabin in the woods to thrive,” Bobuq wrote to us. “On the contrary, all of my best work comes out of collaboration and community.” We felt an immediate kinship to Bobuq’s sentiments, and were struck by how visceral and raw their words were on the page. As one editor commented, “I’ve never seen a piece feel so much like skin before.” Their dedication to communal and constant growth resonated with us deeply, and we are so looking forward to holding space for this evolution of creativity.
LiAnne Yu is a Hakka-Fukienese-Taiwanese American, raised in San Francisco and now living on the Big Island of Hawaii. She always wanted to be an anthropologist and as a kid, idolized Margaret Mead. As her third grade teacher once told me, anthropologists get to travel, poke their noses into closets, listen to grannies gossip on the front porch, and call that a good day’s work. Her research has given her the opportunity to hang out with all kinds of communities, including Snapchat obsessed teens, south Chicago boys with basketball dreams, Chinese senior citizens taking naps in IKEA, and fishermen living out on the Louisiana bayou. She’s written about climate change and clean energy entrepreneurialism for Hawaii Business Magazine and her book, Consumption in China, was published by Polity Press in 2014.
“Since turning 50 at the very start of the pandemic (in fact, Hawaii went into lockdown on my birthday – oh joy!) I’ve been forced to let go of a lot of my FOMO,” she wrote to us. “And that’s created space for me to write in different ways – get out of the ‘productivity’/’publish or perish’ mindset and consider what it is that I want to say and how to say it in my voice.” We were super drawn to LiAnne’s curiosity, sense of humor, and wide range of experiences and research; her work is considered, engaging, and always, always, full of questions.
Rabia Saeed is from Kohat, Pakistan. She was a finalist for the Editor’s Prize in Prose for Meridian, and was the winner of the 2020 Harvey Swados Fiction Prize, and the 2021 James W. Foley Award. She teaches Creative Writing at University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
“I want to say that we don’t see the world once, or twice, we see the world a thousand times, in the worlds we envision to survive those we can’t bear to live in,” she wrote to us, referencing Louise Glück’s famous quote. We were immediately drawn to Rabia’s exploration of women’s bodies juxtaposed with the lush landscape of Pakistan, and wanted to offer our support as she navigates “what it takes to journey across the metaphorical metal door, to go from watching the world to being in it.” Her imagery, sharp wit, and open-palmed approach toward community made her an obvious fit for our residency program.
Ariana Benson (she/they) is proudly from Chesapeake, Virginia. She received the 2021 Graybeal-Gowen prize and was a finalist for the 2020 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize and the 2021 Pink Poetry Prize. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Obsidian, West Branch, Shenandoah, Great River Review, ANOMALY, Lunch Ticket, Southern Humanities Review and Auburn Avenue, where she serves as Nonfiction Editor, among others. Ariana’s work often interrogates language, visual art, environmental concerns, and the connection between African Diasporic peoples and the natural landscape. Through her writing, she strives to fashion vignettes of Blackness that speak to its infinite depth and richness. Ariana enjoys watching sports, reading the entire plots of anime series on Wiki, and playing easy, relaxing video games (think Animal Crossing and Spiritfarer).
“To borrow … from the title of Tiana Clark’s brilliant first collection, how can we marvel at the majesty of trees and the blood on their leaves, the fraying knots of ropes still dangling from their branches?” Ariana wrote to us. “In what ways is harm traded for pleasure, and who decides what ‘peace’ is worth the pain required to achieve it?” Ariana’s poetry is striking, her ability to interweave disparate topics into a cohesive lyric incredible. Or as one of our editors put it, “Their voice almost seems to operate from a profound sense of humble urgency.”
Saba Keramati is a Chinese-Iranian writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing from University of Michigan and UC Davis, where she was a Dean’s Graduate Fellow for Creative Arts. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, her work appears or is forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, AGNI, Vagabond City Lit, and elsewhere. She is a Virgo, loves baking banana bread, and grows lavender on her windowsill.
“In my writing, I try to infuse beauty even while I interrogate structures of power in poems,” Saba wrote to us. “I work to assert a voice that can hold fierce righteousness and the lyric voice.” We were immediately taken by Saba’s exploration of her multi-racial identities, and the tenderness with which she approaches topics of harm, anger, and frustration. Her insistence on finding beauty amid a broken world and unjust systems is not only admirable, but aspirational; we can’t wait to see how she will bring her perspective and experiences to the virtual table over the next five months.
hannah rubin is a queer writer and interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles. Their work is curious about leaking + viscous porosities, gender, ecology, rivers, trauma, being in relation, abolition landscapes, and the geomorphologies of grief. Their art practice weaves wetly through their work as an organizer, facilitator, educator, anti-capitalist agitator, and friend. They’ve exhibited and performed at MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Now Instant Image Hall, REDCAT, LA Art Book Fair, AA/LA Gallery, as well as galleries/bookstores/bars in Oakland, New York, Portland, Seattle, and Vermont. Their writing has been published in F Magazine, ARTFORUM, smoke and mold, Ghost City Review, BOAAT Magazine, SF Weekly, and elsewhere. They were the recipient of the Truman Capote Literary Fellowship at California Institute of the Arts, a 2020 Craft Futures Award from Center for Craft, and a 2017 Lambda Literary Fellowship in Poetry. Currently, hannah is an assistant editor at smoke and mold and a program manager at Arts At Blue Roof, a free residency program for women and non-binary folks in South LA.
“I believe that our relationship with each other, the rhizomatic waves of relationship that we are constantly embedded and embodied within, is ‘the work’ we are here to do,” hannah wrote to us. “And if ‘economy’ is the activity that occurs through a set of social relations, then it is within this framework of ‘economy of harm that we can begin to understand our current social relations.” What caught our attention about hannah’s work is how deftly they extrapolate meaning from various inter- and intrapersonal relationships, and we are looking forward to seeing their work in conversation with their fellow residents’.