Catalyst: A Collection of Poetry by Hanan Seid

Catalyst: A Collection of Poetry by Hanan Seid, a Handmade Storybook by Sushmita Mazumdar

Hanan kicks off the Mic-Less Night at Studio Pause

Hanan Seid was Studio Pause’s first artist-in-residence starting in May 2016. She came referred by AHC’s resident services, (AHC Inc owns the Gates of Ballston property where Studio Pause is located), because she was a resident of the community and had been a volunteer with their after-school program for resident children, also hosted in the Rinker Community Center, where the Studio is.  

When attending her first Studio event, Rana Jaafar Yaseen’s art show reception and poetry reading, Hanan, who was studying journalism at NoVA, came up with a project she wanted to work on. “I have hosted many open mics,” she said, “but there are always some who don’t come up and share because they are intimidated by the mic.” The acoustics in the Studio and the size was such that she wanted to try out a Mic-Less Night series, an open mic with no mic, created for those who don’t like the mic. Would they come? Would they share?

Hanan with the artwork Sush made inspired by her story for the City of Stories project

Over the years, we watched them come, share, and become part of the Studio. Hanan taught us how to write poetry like she does (and be again, like we used to be, when we were young and fiery), and host like she does—gently, and always with a smile and humor, while showing others the way. I have introduced Hanan to many I have worked with and included her and her work in projects I have done. And so, I was thrilled when she said she would like to collaborate with me in creating books of her poetry!

ˈpōətəs: 2019
A limited-edition teaser, ˈpōətəs was created in two weeks and launched at the Mic Night 2019 at Dar AlHijrah Islamic Center, in Falls Church, VA. Hanan picked a format from my box of book samples and I adapted it to work with materials she liked which I had at the Studio. She learned bookmaking from me and worked on all 25 copies herself, folding, measuring, sewing. Much more than just a poet, her skills, aesthetic, and ideas got a chance to be part of the project. At one point, she laughed and said into a video she was shooting as she sewed, “You know, it’s funny that I am sewing. My dad is a tailor.” Needless to say, there were many other things that came up for her as she worked on the books and shared stories about her life and her family. And at the Mic Night, the books got a lot of compliments and sold out. The poet’s hand was very much a part of the book!
Sold Out!

Catalyst: cat·a·lyst /ˈkad(ə)ləst/ noun: a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.
A full-length poetry book in a more traditional design but still Handmade at the Studio, Catalyst will be open to pre-order on Hanan’s 24th birthday on March 29, 2020!

“The word Catalyst means a lot to me. I think of these three things, my tradition, my voice, and my heart as the catalysts which make me who I am today.” ~ Hanan

We will take orders through April, National Poetry Month, and then make and ship the books to you. Of course, we have no idea how the current coronavirus situation will affect all this, but hopefully you will get the books in May-June, 2020.

Hanan Seid Her home is in Arlington but her heart is at Hogwarts. Hanan is an activist in training, artist, future journalist, trailblazer, and more. She’s a published poet. A painter and founder of Mic-Less Night series at Studio Pause, which gives the community a space to share their story. She is an immigrant, Black, Muslim, woman and uses poetry and art to express her story/ perspective. Follow Hanan @hananwrites_ or email her at

Pre-Order your limited-edition copy of Catalyst here!
The first edition of the 20-poem book will be of 40 copies, with a black and gold cover made from paper Sushmita brought from India. 8.5” x 5.5” in size, priced at $35 the handmade poetry book will be made in Studio Pause, Arlington, VA.  Sold Out!

  1. I learned to make lists like this a long time before I was a book artist. I learned it from a foul-tempered elderly Vietnamese man who nobody at work liked. At that temp gig at a newspaper in Washington DC, I learned a lot of great systems and processes from him. I also learned a lot from the reaction of the all-white staff towards him. The list in this photo, next to Hanan’s words in the Latin and Amharic scripts, brought this memory back from 20 yrs ago!
  2. The delicious thing about hand-producing books is that I get ongoing glimpses into the writing. This is a true collaboration because I am reading, reflecting on the authors words, ideas, and experiences, and learning a lot. Unlike a machine, I am not just producing books but I am changing as I make the books. I really get to know the authors. That is why I offer a “make your own copy of the book” workshops. I remember for another project a friend said, “Let me help you bind the books. There are so many orders!” And I hesitated. I wondered what I would miss. But I had read them all many times and so I let her help. As she tried a different system for the binding (the Japanese Stab Bound book format) we were amazed to find the end result always looked the same. Totally cool!
  3. My “Made by Hand” seal and “Made with Love” heart appears on the last page where the bios are. The books are signed by author and artist in the end. There are always random pens around the studio for signing. here, of course, we see the Studio logo colors! Fun!
  4. A photo of a stack of copies, covers of black and gold cut, signatures folded and ready to be sewn. Love the low-tech, all hands approach.

~ Sush

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