DAUGHTER OF IMMIGRANTS

Book / 2020

Helsinki Open Waves interview
by Leonardo Custódio.


Cover art by Sasha Huber.


The book is available for purchase from Books on Demand and Scribd 
This journey did not begin when I sat down to write the first poem of this book.
It did not begin when I started writing diaries in my mother’s discarded Nestle planners that she brought home from work, aged 7 or 8, about whichever boy I had a crush on at the time.

It did not begin when I did theater aged 16, and realized that I had an artistic voice, and that voice found its way out with Teater Muda and Five Arts Centre. It did not begin while I thought about what university degree I would pursue, because doing Art for a living was not something a good Asian girl does.


It did not begin at University, the time most spend partying -that was a time that taught me that dreaming could happen in small increments, growth could also be counted in ways besides numbers, dollars, euros, ringgit and cents. I learned all of this, outside the classroom.

This journey did not begin when ARMA informed me that yes, they would be happy to support the making of this book. It did not begin on that stage at Tenho poetry slam back in 2016, the first time I ever breathed a word of poetry out loud in Finland. The first time I dared to be a poet aloud again, in almost 20 years.


This journey began in a bookstore, when a little girl asked her Papa, to buy her an expensive hardcover book of fairytales, poems and stories. The said little girl, biracial, dyslexic, who had only begun to learn how to read and write shortly before (which in the ever competitive Asian education environment, was woefully too late). She asks him for the book, hopeful. Though it was expensive, though it was thick, though she could barely read. He smiled, and said yes. He bought it for her.
That is when my journey began. The journey continued when Sonya Lindfors put on Cosmic Latte, and invited an audience of people of colour to watch it. And as the dancers moved, and the narrator spoke about what it feels like as a brown artist on a brown stage, a feeling begins to move through my veins. A feeling of being seen. Of being in a room full of POC dreamers, and daring to be. The audaciousness of our very being.

This journey began when my work contract was not continued, when Corona started, when restrictions and fear, forced us all indoors. When I couldn’t fly home and all the flights were cancelled anyway. Borders closed.

When everyone and everything pushed and so I stopped pushing back. When I learned that I exist. When I learned existence itself, is resistance.

This journey began because of so many of you. So many of you told me I could. That I should And so this journey that started and continues because I decided to take all the things I feel, we feel, and know to be true, and put them into a book.

This book is not about me.
This book is about us.


And a father who believes in his daughter. And a mother who never stopped pushing her forward in a world where Daughter of immigrants is not a name you should carry with pride. Who instilled in her pride to be born with Fuchow. Who had that and Ceylonese blood, running through her veins.


So here we are today, with this book. Daughter of Immigrants. This book is for mom and dad. And it is yours too, because without all of you, it could not have ever existed.


Thank you!


   


︎ tania@tanianathan.com 
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