“Is this a happy ending to my story? If so, is my story happy that it has a happy ending?”
There is a myth that there is a story behind every poem, and there is a myth that stories need poetry to achieve the status of myth. Though poetry is the territory before and beyond stories, I have sketched a creation myth about how I came to write the poems, Toronto 2012 and Payäm-där. A word of warning, though: as all myth, it is an attempt at sublimating facts into ideal truth.
Toronto 2012 captures my feelings as an immigrant, a member of visible minority from one of the most misrepresented regions in the world. It is addressed to the eponymous city. The voice is ambivalent, as are the immigration and employment policies—the former welcoming difference, or, at least paying lip service to it; and the latter demanding full assimilation before it acknowledges the newcomer.
I never thought I would write about this land, but here I am. Perhaps because my element is water and water needs a bed to rest on.
Payäm-där addresses one of the most controversial figures in history, the prophet Mohammad. On August 15th, 2013, I attended the poetry series, Hot Sauced Words, hosted by James Dewar and Sue Reynolds. The poetry theme challenge that night was “being at the right place at the right time.” I was, at the time, reading No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and the Future of Islam, by Reza Aslan. The revelation scene in the book had an uncanny resemblance to the poetic inspiration I have often felt, when the so-called “muse” orders me to “write!” I saw Mohammad as a fellow-poet; and aren’t poets always at the right place at the right time?
The only anti-biographical piece of information I am going to share is that I feel blessed I was born into a tradition worth embracing after civil wars of conscience. In this post-colonial spatial period of my life, I am post-patriotic and post-religious.
I guess I need to ask myself some rhetorical questions: is this a happy ending to my story? If so, is my story happy that it has a happy ending? And, do stories with happy endings have as much claim to the best-seller myth as their tragic co-stories?
“The Myth of the Truth” originally appeared on The Town Crier as “Author Notes: Bänoo Zan” on December 6, 2013. To read from Bänoo Zan, check out “All Poetry is Political,” an interview from Tracy Kyncl, and Zan’s poems Toronto 2012 and Payäm-där in The Puritan Issue XXIII.
Bänoo Zan landed in Canada in 2010. She has been writing poetry since the age of ten and has published more than 80 poems, translations, biographies, and articles. Two books of her poetry are due to be released in 2015 and 2016. Both were solicited by the publishers. She is the founder and artistic director of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), the most diverse poetry reading series and open mic in Toronto. For more than two years, the series has been bringing together people from different ethnicities, nationalities, ages, disabilities, religions (or lack thereof), genders, sexual orientations, poetic styles, voices and visions.