Meet the Homegirl: Poet and Author of "Finding Home"
At the age of nineteen, the biggest accomplishment most teenagers have achieved is graduating high school. But for Duaah Hammad, graduation was just the second of many milestones. Two weeks before graduating, she self-published her debut poetry book, “Finding Home."
Duaah's publication broke barriers--she is the first in her family to pursue a creative career. and she has been featured in Teen Vogue and countless Pakistani newspapers and been interviewed on radios all across the country for her work. Her success has defied stereotypes that the only “respectable” careers for South Asians are in the STEM field.
Duaah’s book was a long time coming: she has been writing since she was twelve. For a while, she just focused on short stories, finding a thrill in creating plots and characters of her own. But once she got into high school, she discovered that poetry could be used as an outlet for her negative feelings, a lot of which stemmed from feeling lost between two cultures that didn’t truly feel like her own. This is the main theme of “Finding Home." She wrote her book as a way of addressing the intense pressure to fit into both American and Pakistani society, as well as the negative rhetoric about people of color and immigrants that has become so prevalent in the media.
Most importantly, however, “Finding Home” was written as a way of reaching out to other immigrant children and letting them know they’re not alone. And for those that aren’t immigrants, she wants them to read her book and remember that everyone needs to be accepted, no matter their race or religion.
Despite her powerful message, Duaah was initially afraid of how her book would be perceived. But she persevered, knowing that through writing her story, she could become a voice for hundreds of girls that don’t have one. She is inspired by women such as Rupi Kaur and Malala Yousafzai, whose words and actions inspire millions. She hopes to someday have the same impact, vowing to spend the rest of her life promoting female empowerment through her voice and her writing. Some of the things she wants to work towards include eliminating the double standards in how boys and girls are raised differently, as well as the negative perceptions around so-called “third world countries."
Her advice to young writers and activists? “Young people are the future of this country and the world. Do you see what the kids in Parkland have accomplished by raising their voice? We have voices and if we decide to use them to create change there is no adult or evil that can stand in the way of it. My advice is to young writers is never stop believing in what you do and always keep writing. There are going to be so many people that try to bring you down and tell you that your writing isn't good enough, but let me tell you something. That writing could change the world.”