Breathe — An Interview with the Author

Tumkeen is an award winning author and poet who published her poetry collection–Breathe— last year on January 11th. Therefore, today is her book release day anniversary. Tumkeen lives in Michigan, United States with her husband and children. After a hiatus of several years to raise her growing family, she recently picked up her writing pen once more when she joined Detroit Mom and Lansing Mom, as a contributing writer. Tumkeen highlights her passion for her Muslim faith, family, nature, and healing through her written work. She often describes her writing as “I am writing to heal and healing to write”. Her work has been published and shared in several publications. Her hobbies include watching the sunrise every morning, spending time with her family, and traveling.

Papatia Feauxzar : Assalamu aleikum Tumkeen, welcome to Hayati Magazine. Can you please tell us something we don’t know about you?

Tumkeen: Walaikumasalam. I am so grateful to be interviewed for this amazing publication. Wow, I have to think a little on this since I feel like I share everything. I guess most people don’t know that I am a Canadian living in the US. I came to the States a few years after my marriage. Though I’ve been living here for almost two decades, I still consider Canada home.

PF: Breathe is raw, easy to read and really relatable like a group therapy monologue. It’s a healing piece in short that tells the reader: You are not alone in your struggles. I see you. I feel you. I am with you. Hold my hand. We will get through it together, and you will feel better after you know that, “I also have been there.” 

I liked Breathe and some pieces stood out more than others. For instance, Soldiers and Day Eight. In Day Eight, we see the side of covid we all enjoyed; the needed pause. Do your other readers also relate to this “free from urgency” moment? 

T: Thank you! People don’t realize that their comments and feedback are so important and profoundly impactful to authors. I love hearing every comment and reflection, so thank you for that.

Yes,  Soldiers was an emotional write for me. It was written after watching exhausted doctors being interviewed on the news. Their eyes seemed exhausted and yet they were widened in their wakeful state of witnessing this flood of patients who were literally gasping for help. 

As for Day Eight  I think it was extremely relatable to many of the readers. I think many people relished that free from urgency part of the pandemic. It was the early honeymoon days of the quarantine. People suddenly found themselves enjoying the gift of time. That break from the rush of the everyday. I remember looking at this overly scheduled calendar on my phone and suddenly it felt meaningless. The “have-to”s just evaporated into nothingness. And that moment of just “being” instead of  doing or going gave  me the pause to sit. Many readers have related to Breathe for this reason. Because they too felt like they sat and wondered in the same spaces that Breathe was encapsulating. We were all in it, together. That is essentially the heart of the book. 

PF: True. So when did the idea to compile your daily logs and poems come to you? How did the inspiration hit you? 

T: The pandemic came into my life at a time when I was deeply immersed in the work of healing. I was working on my personal growth and development. Many years of my life were spent ridden by anxiety and low self-esteem, and I was busy working with that. So when the pandemic suddenly arrived at my doorstep, I felt myself leaning on those old coping mechanisms of worry and panic and fear. As I lay in bed wondering one night of what was to come, I suddenly felt this urge to take charge of my emotions. To make something positive out of this historic moment of universal survival. I decided I would challenge myself for 30 days to write daily. And not just that, I would challenge myself to take my negative thoughts and turn them into pieces of hope and gratitude. I did not want to undo the progress I was making for the past months. This book was me reclaiming my power.

PF: Kuddos to you for doing that. Now, you also give parenting, romance, marriage, and relationships advices in your articles having been married twenty years plus masha’Allah! Do you also get the occasional online trolls who disagree with the advice given?

T: Once in a while, yes. But they are rare. For the most part, I like to reiterate that these feelings and experiences are mine. They are a reflection of my journey. I would hate to be preachy or give unsolicited advice. I just want to share my story and thoughts and hope that someone somewhere out there will see themselves in it and not feel alone. It’s the essence of all my pieces. 

PF: I agree. How has your journey to becoming a published author been?  Was it easy, difficult, expensive, an awakening—rude or gentle, etc.?

T: My mentor and coach, the amazing Na’ima B. Robert, once told me, “it’s not about the book, it’s the woman you become along the way!” That is what my journey in becoming a published author has been about. I used to think that holding that book for the first time and seeing my name printed on it would feel like the entire world was in my hand. But it was the smile that I had realizing all the work and tears and perseverance I didn’t know I had in me that brought me to that moment. It was overwhelmingly spiritual and humbling to be called an author for the first time. To refer to myself as one — I get goosebumps just reliving that. Subhan‘Allah. 

No, it’s not easy but what in life is?! And yet is it doable, absolutely! That’s the sweet part! To know that anyone can do it, and they can do it their way, and it doesn’t have to be done the way someone else has and yet it will still be relatable… someone will connect with it. It can be a little expensive but it’s an investment into your dreams and for me, this book took me on journeys I never ever believed I could travel. It opened doors I didn’t know existed. And I have been awed by how Allah has been listening to my heart the entire time. 

PF: Any future writing projects on the back burner?

T: Yes. Alhamdulillah, I have been working on my memoir. It’s been an emotional journey writing and now editing this book. The memoir is my story on surviving mental health issues, the challenges of motherhood, and finding healing in my midlife. It has taken me a while to work on it because I have been learning and healing while writing it. It’s helped me mend relationships and discover myself a little more. 


PF: Masha’Allah Tumkeen! May Allah grant you ease with it, aameen.

Thank you for being with us. The Team at Hayati Magazine wishes you much even more success with all your works, aameen! Please share your social media handles for the readers.

T:  Thank you for this opportunity!

Instagram- @thepoetryoftumkeen

www.instagram.com/thepoetryoftumkeen

Facebook – www.facebook.com/tumkeenwriter/

PF: You are welcome. Houb salam.

Papatia Feauxzar

Papatia Feauxzar is a practicing Accountant. She focused on personal finance in graduate school. She has a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA). Around the year, Feauxzar expatiate on personal finance and romance tips here and on her blogs. She is also the Online Editor of Hayati Magazine and the author of the first Ivorian Cookbook in English. Also a poet, you can read three of her pieces in "WOKE & LOUD: A Faith-Based Medley of Muslim Poetry & Spoken Word" published by Inked Resistance. Visit her at www.djarabikitabs.com or www.fofkys.com .

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