“The Perpetual Foreigner” by Hana Kim1 min read

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Illustration by Anderson Lee

I am the sorrow of the perpetual outsider,
Carried on through centuries of pain.
Still hearing the echoes of souls once silenced,
From signs that read, “No Indians, Chinese, or dogs allowed.”

The yellow peril never fades away,
A numbing pain that never ends.
Constantly sorted by skin-like breeds of dogs,
My identity forever in question.

Each morning I awake, believing I am at home,
But the blanket of prejudice soon reminds me I am not.
Discrimination and antagonism, a constant battle,
Every day I must shout, “I am not a virus!”

I stand tall, a symbol of strength and resilience,
But the weight of being a perpetual foreigner never leaves.
My voice a testament to the struggle and strife,
A reminder that our fight for equality never fades.


Hana Kim is a first-gen Korean Canadian and Director of East Asian Library at the University of Toronto. She previously served as Head Librarian of the Asian Library at UBC and has published on Asian Canadian heritage and library studies. In 2009, she launched the nationwide Korean Canadian Heritage Archives Project. Kim is a recipient of the 2018 Korean Canadian Heritage Award and the 2008 Sunshik Min Prize for her 16 poems. She has also received the Korea Times’ 41st Modern Korean Literature Translation Award for Poetry. In addition to her translations, she has contributed original poems “Variety Crossing” and “Han Kŭt: Critical Art and Writing by Korean Canadian Women.”

Anderson Lee is a second-generation Asian Canadian artist and a frequent contributor to Ricepaper Magazine.

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