In the Name Of

Dear You, dear 
border, and
hye-phen, and good
boi and tranny faggot,
and most divine, dear
Say Their Name

I am learning to love 
the things about me 
they call foreign
The way my name
dances on ten letters
and how I 
carry a border 
on two backs

I thought home was
supposed to taste sweet
prunes that make 
a mouth curl into itself
and rosewater 
for exhaling hands
In Iran, my mom says,
it is custom 
to give breath to hands

In America, everything
in the name of redemption
Like the way the officer 
says Iran and then takes 
my father aside 
for extra questioning
Like the way they say ma’am
and I think they mean me

What is the name we give
for sacrifice, 
for a rhythm of 
boundaries or 
the inhabiting of a 
space not made
Border between
what is there and
what is not

I am beautiful because I sacrificed
what was there for
what is (not)

What is resilient
If not the way I tremble
before God
before Allah
before Marsha 
before Say Their Name
before The Next One Dead
before those more divine
than the blood of our illusions

Artist statement: Colin Laurel

Before visualizing my illustration, I had an eye-opening conversation with Niko, my writing partner, about common ground in our creative practices. I sought to compliment Niko's raw, beautiful prose with a piece where dreams and reality merged into one; I drew from the fantastical nature of reveries and childlike imagination to portray a scene of play between non-binary children of color. This year has been momentous for my work in that I have been granted opportunities to create uplifting imagery for minority groups. In continuing this pursuit, I used our surroundings as a mirror for what we aspire to be--for a youth, that might be a great equestrian; for another, a wild lion. Whichever the cause, I wanted the world around us to reflect positively upon trans dreamers everywhere.

Artist statement: Nikole (Niko) Shahbazian

Resilience is such a difficult concept to express, especially when there is so much hardship and trauma within our communities. I think for Colin and me, our collaboration resulted in conveying the multiplicity of the term resilience, of what it means to describe or portray a resistance that encompasses the variation of our intersections. The result of our collaboration ended up being two distinct depictions of paths, or processes, and also of movement. We both think and sketch in terms of movement, so that was definitely an important theme in the work. For me, I learned that trans liberation is nothing if not rooted in community. I'm also reminded that trans liberation is not an outcome but a continuous process. This collaboration, with Colin and with the other writers and artists, as well as with the supervisors of the project, has helped me realize the influence of this community and the power in this process.