While I was reading this anthology in a cafe in Homebush, a group of young kids walked past my table. Recognising my little தமிழ் self in them, I smiled. A few steps behind was a young women. She smiled and asked if I was Priyanka’s friend. She recognised my Tiger earings (Priyanka also rocks a pair). I learnt her name was அபிவதனா, Abbivathana.
“Priyanka makes me think twice about what has been presented to me by society, my upbringing and my education - she makes me want to learn more”, she explained with much gratitude.
She explained that it is because of Priyanka and other தமிழ்s who are fiercely displaying their தமிழ்ness and writing about identity, mental health and cultural journeys, that she is wanting to stop hiding from being தமிழ்.
This has been my experience too.
Before we can understand words, we are told stories. While trying to protect us from the trauma of the Sri Lankan government’s violence, our ammas, appas and grandparents have shared the happy moments and the celebrations. Some have narrated the horrors and the narrow escapes. As diaspora தமிழ்s growing up in new home countries, with a backdrop of genocide, it can be challenging and confusing to grapple with these personal and historical tapestries. Priyanka’s poetry gives us the language to process the complexities of evolving identities that are healing from war and resisting occupation, while being brave, unapologetic and dazzling.
Her writing holds space for us to navigate being migrants, refugees, Eela தமிழ்s and Women of Colour. Her deep commitment to living with integrity on stolen First Nations land holds us accountable. Her radical refusal to create art for a white gaze is inspiring.
We are lucky to have an அக்கா, daughter and Amma like Priyanka, who is challenging injustices - personal and systemic - and who is reminding us that art is a potent and critical form of resistance.
At the age of 82, the formidable Maya Angelou said, “the main thing is to be in love with the search for truth”. Priyanka’s poetry is a search for truth. May you fall in love as you lose yourself in these pages.
About the Author
Priyanka (she/her) is an Eela Thamizh woman who lives and works on unceded Darug land. She is the daughter of refugees who fled a state-sponsored genocide to the UK and migrated to ‘Australia’ in the 80s. A writer, educator and multidisciplinary artist, she chronicles her experiences on the intersections of her various identity markers, as well as her general observations of Western Sydney life through poetry, prose and creative non-fiction. She is inspired by the works of Oodgeroo Noonucal, Toni Morrison and Mathangi Arulpragasam.
Priyanka is passionate about the interconnected nature of individual and collective healing and growth outside of mainstream ideals, and founded @wearethemainstream, a collective that centres the voices and visibility of First Nations, Gender Diverse and Women of Colour. Priyanka is an earring enthusiast, consumes copious cups of cold kōpi and her love language is a good old Yālppāna rice and curry.