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Monday Matter: Bánh mì, Japanese mothers and 3 giveaway winners
Your biweekly Foreign Bodies roundup
Every other Monday, I send subscribers and gift recipients of immigrant mental health and storytelling newsletter Foreign Bodies stories I recently inhaled and adored. This is also a chance to do some housekeeping and give shout-outs and all that jazz. This week’s roundup is public to announce recent giveaway winners.
First things first
A little housekeeping
Give this a listen 🎧
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with dear feminist healing coach Nisha Mody for an episode of The Bánh Mì Chronicles, a podcast by Randy Kim that makes community (or breaks bánh mì) with AAPI folks in Chicago and beyond to understand the work they are doing for themselves, their community, and their family.
Congrats to our giveaway winners!
Congrats to Mariela E., Kimberly F. and Win-Sie T. for each winning a copy of Letters to a Writer of Color, a recently published collection of essays edited by Deepa Anappara and Taymour Soomro featuring work from an international array of writers of color like Madeleine Thien, Tiphanie Yanique, Kiese Laymon, Myriam Gurba, Xiaolu Guo and more. I’m so excited to get these packed up and shipped out to you all!
Learn a little more about our winners below:
Mariela (she/her) is a Mexican writer, artist and community arts worker living in the Kutjungka region of northern Western Australia. Her practice attempts to act as an overpass between diverse, and often contrasting experiences; using the power of contemplation, language and story to build a bridge between ‘here’ and ’there’, ‘us ’ and ’them’. Mariela is particularly invested in listening and sharing the perspectives and experience of underrepresented minorities who experience vulnerability, without choice. Consider subscribing to her digital letter slow and small and, if you’d like to connect, find her on Instagram @slow.small!
Kim (they/them/theirs) is a researcher, writer and educator. They live in Philadelphia and are interested in all things data, disability and technology. If you'd like to find them online, they're on Twitter and Instagram (@ kimmerrlee).
Win-Sie (she/her) is a Queens native and spiritual activist who writes and performs at the intersection of race, gender and grief. When she's not advocating for food justice and immigrants’ rights, she's an avid indoor gardener and cyclist.
A musical start to your Mondays 🎧
One song to groove to, cry to, drive to and share
This week’s music rec comes from reader Gladys W. Bitterside is an alternative, indie, pop band from Malta featuring four members: Daniel Genius, J.J. Galea, Alexei Sammut and Kenneth Vella. The group was founded in 2000, took a hiatus in 2010, and returned in January 2022 with the track above.
Resource(s) of the week
Something helpful and interesting and cool (*storytelling opportunity)
*Build Me a Hummingbird of Words: How to Distill Your Life into a Flash: Mississippi Poet Laureate Beth Ann Fennelly, who I had the pleasure of learning from during my MFA residency, is offering a five-day in-person interactive memoir workshop in Maine. Cost: $1,695. Dates: July 17-21, 2023.
How to foster your purpose wherever you are in life: OK, this little self-help piece from Vox might feel a little woo-woo, but my friends and I have been having a lot of tough talks about our sense of purpose beyond work and I really appreciated this bit of advice: “Since purpose tends to materialize well into adulthood, [Stanford education professor William] Damon suggests looking back on previous moments in your life when you had a sense of fulfillment … ‘It gives them clues about the kinds of experiences that offer them this satisfaction and what they’re capable of,’ Damon says. How can you recreate these circumstances where you thrive within your current life?”
Both/And: a new limited series from Electric Literature centering the voices of trans and gender nonconforming writers of color
Personal stories and poetry I’m loving
From Here (Edil Hassan, Guernica): “It is quite a distance: from here to the time when you and I will meet. / Can be measured by your palm dreading worship down your back / on a Sunday. / And how sorrow makes me prophetic. White albumen ringing the eye. / Measured by this or other revolutions.” A snippet of poetry from Somali American poet Edil Hassan, author of Dugsi Girl and senior poetry fellow at Washington University in St. Louis.
Remembering the Egyptian Childhood I Never Had Through Its Culinary Traditions (Jasmin Attia, LitHub): “My earliest memories take place at the age of three or four in our small green-carpeted apartment in Boston when I was little enough to fit into my mother’s yellow laundry basket. I vaguely understood the duality of our lives then, the two places that were both called home, Egypt and America… Sometimes I think my parents were afraid they might fade into the ether if I didn’t understand what home meant to them. In a sense, they were probably right.” A gorgeous meditation on longing for home and food as culture from soon-to-be-published author of The Oud Player of Cairo, Jasmin Attia. Read here.
Whose Time Are We Speaking In? (Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi, The Sewanee Review): “The architecture of a place affects our perception of time, our cognition, our emotionality and consciousness; it has the capacity to shape the mind.” A brilliant, gutting essay and craft talk exploring storytelling, mental health, family and more that’s so worth your time. A big thank you to Vesna Jaksic Lowe’s Immigrant Strong newsletter for the hat-tip! Read here.
In the news
Relevant news coverage that doesn’t really fall under our larger mission to de-stigmatize through personal storytelling, but is still essential reading for anyone who wants to stay up-to-date on immigrant and refugee mental health as well as general mental health news.
The Invisible Network (Allison Salerno with photos by Bita Honarvar, Palabra): “The pandemic, changes to federal law, and human rights crises around the world—particularly in Venezuela—have stretched that makeshift support system to its limits.” A must-read on the overextended volunteers assisting asylum seekers in Georgia. Read here.
These Japanese mothers banded together through a support group to talk about mental illness (Phi Do, Los Angeles Times): “I was frustrated and truly had such a difficult time with the language and culture in dealing with my situation. And I really wanted to be able to share my thoughts with other Japanese people in the Japanese language.” Loved this spotlight on how one Japanese-speaking family support group under NAMI South Bay is helping first-gen Japanese mothers with their children’s mental health. Read here.
Public Health Agencies Turn to Locals to Extend Reach Into Immigrant Communities (Markian Hawryluk, Kaiser Health News): When Covid vaccines first became available, public health officials and agencies in Denver reached out to existing community organizations serving immigrants and minorities with micro grants and let the groups decide how best to spend the money to reach the communities they serve. The success of the outreach program for vaccine administration has led to a second round of microgrants, this time to address the stigma against mental illness. Read here.
One sorta unrelated story on my mind
Why We Made Fewer Memories during the Pandemic (Jadine Egan, The Walrus): “We might assume that our pandemic memories are missing because information entered our brains, then slipped from it—like a toy tumbling out of a clumsy toddler’s hands,” writes Egan. “However, it’s more likely that our brains weren’t storing that information in the first place.” Mogan Barense, a neuroscience expert at the Universityy of Toronto, told Egan: “Uncertainty about core survival is going to be incredibly anxiety provoking, which, even in the absence of an anxiety disorder, is going to be really bad for one’s memory and one’s overall well-being.” An insightful reported essay on the science behind our clumsy, muddy pandemic memories. Read here.
Books and collections I’m currently reading (plus reader-recommended works!)
Just finished: Dear Outsiders by Jenny Sadre-Orafai, a stunning collection of poetry exploring our role as strangers to and members of our environments, identities and families
Reader rec from Mina H.: Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, a feminist collection of poetry straddling borders by a daughter of Mexican immigrants
Remember, we always have tons of wonderful stories and resources available at foreignbodies.net.
Love to see it
Shout-outs, thank-yous and more
Calling all U.S. Muslims! Please take this 15-minute survey for American Islamic College professor Shabana Mir:
I started doing this in January, and it’s made such a difference in my writing and general brain-space.
I know a lot of you are in journalism, so if this helps anyone…
Pumped for this book.
For anyone looking to support Mississippi tornado recovery and rebuilding efforts:
Leaving you with some Lady and Billie photos.
That’s it for now.
Did you absolutely hate this? Open to criticism and suggestions. See ya later!
Special thanks to our growing Foreign Bodies Sustaining Members for keeping this newsletter going through all my ups and downs
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