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Spotlight: Amani Saeed

Amani Saeed on the idea of 'home' in her poetry.

Photographed by Alia Romagnoli

Tell us about your debut collection 'Split.'

'Split' is my debut collection of poetry and is aptly split into two halves. One half is about what it means to be a constant other, what it means to be perceived as both a foreigner and a westerner, a Muslim who is not 'Muslim enough.' The other half is about abuse and the aftermath: trauma, healing, and learning how to love differently. Both halves are about coming to terms with a continually split self and stitched together into new iterations each time.

'Split' is Amani's debut poetry collection

What does 'home' mean to you?

For me, home isn't a place, a building, or even loved ones. It's more of a feeling, a portable paradise, as Roger Robinson perfectly puts it in his poem of the same name. That feeling is one of sanctuary, of safety. Where I can take the mask off and hang it up with my coat, and be who I am without pretence or affectation. I think perhaps home is also a verb - that we create home, rather than passively entering into it. As someone who has moved countries a fair bit, realising that home is something I build has helped me adapt and feel comfortable quickly, no matter where I am.

Photographed by Kiran Gidda

What creative projects do you look forward to this year?

I'm hugely looking forward to the production of Queer Parivaar, a positive, queer South Asian love story. I'm one of the co-writers along with the mastermind behind the film, Shiva Raichandani. So far, we've been brainstorming characters, delving into their childhoods and stories, and trying to let the script write itself based on our discoveries. What I love most about the project is that every single person working on it - cast, musicians, writers, cinematographers, you name it - is queer and Asian. It's a film for us, by us. I'm also looking forward to relaunching my open mic night, the hen-nah party.

Amani Saeed (she/her) is a spoken word artist based in the UK.

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