Damneet Kaur

:: LOCATION

San Francisco, San Diego, California, USA

:: MEDIUM

poetry, writing

:: IDENTIFIES AS

Desi Sikh womxn

As a womxn, why do you think it is important to create?

I think it’s important to create because it validates my experience as a woman of color, as a child of immigrants, as a human in this world.I think it’s also important to create to build a platform, for other womxn to join, have our voices heard, listen to one another, as a reminder that currently, I am here because someone else isn’t and to be able to support one another a womxn poets/writers/artists.

What or who keeps you inspired?

My culture and my community keep me inspired. I grew up mixing my Punjabi identity into the Latin@ community that I was surrounded by as a young child, and it became important for me to tell the narratives of the people who raised me. From the womxn who lived around apartment building, teaching me Spanish, to the writers I read about in middle and high school. Writers such as Sandra Cisneros, Toni Morrison, and Suheir Hammad.

What has been your proudest moment as an artist/creative?

My proudest moment as an artist has been the ability to influence my sister into a love for writing. It makes me extremely happy to see her write poetry and stories for a hobby.

How do you define love?

I’d like to believe love is the way womxn hold one another, the way mother’s carry their first born, so tightly yet gently, and the same way I often need my mother to hold me, even as a grown up. a type of warmth that allows us to trust each other, allows us to give, listen, as humans, allows us to remind ourselves every day: I am important and so are the people around me.

What is the space like that you create in?

The space that I create in is constantly moving. Sometimes I write on the bus, sometimes at 3 am when I can’t fall asleep, and sometimes in a silent room listening to my thoughts.

What do you like to listen to while you create?

I like listening to Sufi music, qawwali’s, and Selena.

What’s your earliest memory of making art?

I think the earliest memory of me “making art” was actually listening to my grandmother when I was about 5 years old, tell me a story of rajas and rani’s (Emperors and Empresses) on our rooftop in Punjab during the summer. We would lay on the manja, which is a bed woven by ropes, and I would imagine the stories she would tell me. We would create stories together of what happened to the raja or the rani. It made me think of how poetic my people were, how beautiful my language was, and that in itself was art.

Do you have any words of advice for young womxn/artist/creators out there?

Always remember who you are and where you come from. Never shut down an opportunity where you can fearlessly express all of who you are and stand for. And wherever you stand, always thank the soil you stand on. Acknowledge that your creativity is inherited from your ancestors, as you share your voice, you are voicing the generations before you and their stories. And most importantly, always give back to what has helped you grow.  

Who is an artist/creative who inspires you?

Suheir Hammad.

What do you think are some ways to strengthen/celebrate the community of womxn who are artists/creatives?

I think creating platforms where womxn can share their stories is one of the most valuable ways to celebrate and strengthen community. When we are able to listen to one another, and freely express each other, then we are able to grow and let others grow.

What social issues do you care about most?

Islamophobia and the way it affects the Sikh community, the need for solidarity amongst the Muslim and Sikh community, Police Brutality, the effect of borders on migrant families, the health problems of those who grow up in low-income neighborhoods, rights for undocumented workers

What keeps you creating during hard times, such as all the things going on in the world right now? How does that affect your work?

I think what keeps me creating during hard times is knowing that if we as people of color, or I as a womxn of color stop, then I might as well be dead. I am privileged in this world, in the sense that with all that is going on, I am still alive, still breathing, still have language for my emotions, so for me to not speak out about what is wrong, then I am taking advantage of my privilege. What also keeps me creating during hard times is the love of the people around me, a reminder of how beautiful community is, to be able to come together during the worst of times.

Damneet, your words breathe fresh air into our lungs. Much appreciation for sharing your wisdom on love, acknowledging our ancestors, and reminding us to always give back to what has helped us grow.