I am a Poet: Zain Alam (aka Humeysha)

Humeysha performing with an electric guitar in a moody auditorium

Zain Alam is an artist and musician whose work explores the sonic life of minorities and the marginalized. Through histories provided and personal, his practice investigates how the act of borrowing transforms traditional notions of “authenticity” and the “auteur” in the digital age.

He charts intimate relationships with archival material through sampling, improvisation, and synthesis techniques to reanimate what it means to take from another and to give back from one’s own inheritance.

Described as “a unique intersection, merging the cinematic formality of Bollywood and geometric repetition of Islamic art,” his recording project Humeysha has been covered by the New York Times, Vice, and Village Voice. He has recently completed fellowships and residencies with the South Asian American Digital Archive, Wreck City, and Harvard University.

What are you eating for comfort?

Khichdi, South Asia’s premier comfort dish of rice and lentils. Pair it with achaar (or some other pickle), coriander chutney, and any bubbly drink for the full comfort food experience.

What are you binge watching? re-watching?

The Sopranos when I’m in the mood for soaking up what appears to be an essential part of American culture, and Terrace House when I’m looking for the television form of comfort food.

What was the last thing that made you smile or laugh?

Some variation on the “we are the virus, nature is healing” meme. It’s okay to have a laugh at eco-fascists and fake animal news right now.

What is a poem you’d like to share with our readers?

Tonight by Agha Shahid Ali

Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

Easing someone else’s pain for a moment with a laugh or even just giving yourself an ounce of comfort right now might be the best thing each of us can do in a situation like this where we have such little control.