MEET FARIHA RÓISÍN
Tell us about a notable memory from your upbringing, relating to anything, maybe something that continues to shape the way you think today?
I was really lucky to have a father who would often tell me, "Don't plan your life." I tend to remember that whenever things aren't going the way I think they should. Muslims have this great concept of surrendering. To be a Muslim actually translates to being surrender, some might say to God, but I think God is just a synonym for universe. So, Surrender to the Universe. Don't plan your life!
Where did you grow up and what brought you here? Tell us your “New York/Brooklyn” story.
I grew up in Sydney, Australia. I came to New York, initially, as a guise for school. But, I just dropped out and never told my parents. It was a bad kid move, but I really did it for my own survival. I couldn't conceive of any other way of getting out of Australia (I was my mom's primary caretaker, and I wanted freedom) so I needed a rouse. When I first moved here I lived in Williamsburg, back in 2009. I had an older friend who was an artist, who was like, "Be careful. Williamsburg is dangerous." He had a studio there for ten years, so I guess he'd seen a lot of the grit. Now, with gentrification, it's a bit much. It's wild how a place can change in less than ten years! Now, I live with my partner in his family’s brownstone in Bed Stuy. I've been thinking a lot about gentrification recently because it's kinda heart-breaking to see and hear the stories of families that lived for generations in a house, being forced out by loop-holes or shitty money from developers. As a brown person who lives in a black neighborhood, I think about how I contribute to the ecosystem that already exists here so I can help sustain the communities that have been living here for generations. That's how I offset my presence.
You have recently published a book, can you tell us about the subject matter and your personal connection to it?
It's not yet published! My book of poetry comes out next fall, it's called "How To Cure A Ghost" and my novel comes out Spring 2020, and it's called "Like A Bird." Both of them explore sexuality, violence and parental loss, and pain a lot. I'm really fascinated by how we pick up sadness, and how it's inherited. Epigenetics is a real thing!
What was your process of creation for this book?
I've been working on both of them for years. I dreamt the novel when I was 12, and the other one I started after a bad bout of heartbreak. It's been years of writing and unwriting and thinking and processing. And lots and lots of reading!
You’re a very active writer and thinker, what do you find the most harrowing topic of discussion currently in the news/of our time?
White Supremacy. The fact that Nia Wilson, a black 18 year old, was stabbed in the neck on the BART train in Oakland last week is devastating. The fact that she was just with her sister, hanging out, and a white man just felt such anger enough to take her life is something we need to talk about as a society. We need to confront these things, speak out, and fight against this! Or else it'll keep happening.
At what moments do you feel the most passionate, feel the most you?
When I'm talking about politics. I have no chill, i.e. when I'm talking about Israel or white supremacy. I don't like complacency, I don't think complacency is fair to the many many people who just don't have the ability to be complacent. Because for many of us it's life or death, or just constant micro aggressions of racism. Hari Kondabolu has a great quote that's like (I'm ad-libbing) telling a POC not to think about race, is like telling a fish not to think about water. Racism surrounds us, we experience it all the time. It's similar to the patriarchy, we can't see its effects, but we can sure as hell feel them on a micro level... all the time!
We know that tarot card reading is an interest of yours, what draws you to it, was there a defining moment?
I just grew up with astrology and tarot, so it's always kind of being in the periphery of my life! It's really grounding for me and a good reminder that things happen, or unfold, as they should.
What is something you are yearning to experience or learn?
Palpable societal change!
Maimoun comes from the Persian language word meaning to welcome guests/invite company. If you could invite anyone to a dinner who would it be and why?
June Jordan, Susan Sontag, Yuri Kochiyama, James Baldwin, Arundhati Roy. I think all in their own ways they want/ed, and fought (or are fighting) for a better world. They're all incredibly inspirational for me. I live by that ethos, it's important to fight for a world that's inclusive of everyone.