In This, a Revolution (How I Am)

(on 23 August, 2017 & with 8 Comments)

I am not quite sure where or how to begin writing this letter, to be honest. So much has happened, beautiful & terrifying & ugly & tender, since I last gave a life update. It’s only been a few months & yet it feels something closer to a lifetime.

How am I, then? I am tired & restless all at once. I am hurting & whole. I’ve made mistakes since we last spoke that I’m not sure I will ever know how to remedy, & I have done things that were difficult & necessary & not wrong at all, & slowly I’m learning the difference. My ears have been flaring more than usual, & so I have, by association, been listening to lots of music.

This, friends, is how I am.

Perhaps we know each other already on social media. If so, you’ll be aware of the news already, but I will share it here once more: I wrote a new book. It is called poems for the sound of the sky before thunder, & it contains around 35 poems about hurt & hope & healing, & I am so proud of it, & I can’t wait for you all to read it. It’s being published by Math Paper Press in November at the Singapore Writers’ Festival. More details to come.

This is how I am:

excited for this book that has proven me wrong so many times & held me up so many more, but also wondering whether it truly matters considering all of the horror happening in this world of ours. Perhaps that is an uncharacteristically morbid statement – & really, deep down I do believe the act of creation matters more now than ever before – but still I cannot seem to shake the thought.

Even so, I have been consuming so much art that is funny & soft & subversive & inspiring & makes me believe there is still light glowing in this place for us to hold, & I thought you too might like to partake in it. Here: Hank Green on tolerance & forgiveness (“Hate is easy”); 11 Ways that I, a White Man, am Not Privileged (“I’ll just sit down, would you like to fill in the last one?”); powerful photographs that speak so deeply to race & power & class (“So let’s do our part to get an honest, compassionate conversation going, in which people feel heard and we all learn something”).

School has begun again, & it is my last year of high school & therefore of living in Singapore, & I’ve been thinking lately about what the future holds for me & the world. My therapist & I have agreed that we will try to wrap up our sessions together by the end of this school year so that I might go to university only on medication & without the need for therapy. I have healed so much since we first met & the thought of saying goodbye already makes me sad, though I know it is for the best in the long run.

I participated & won my first poetry slam while I was in Virginia participating in UVA’s Young Writers’ Workshop. I am endlessly thrilled to be able to put that in words, & even more so to share the slam videos with you soon, soon, soon.

This is how I am:

trying to hold people closer. Tell my friends I love them, & hang out with my baby sister more often, & cuddle with my dog, & write more letters to loved ones across the seas. It’s helped cut through all of the horror & darkness life sometimes seems to be drenched in. So many people have given me so much & I never want to forget the beauty in that.

Speaking of beautiful people… my small community of Patreon fireflies is steadily growing, which pleases me to no end. I would so love if you joined us (they have known about the new book for months now, & are also in the know about many exciting new projects that I cannot reveal quite yet).

A few fun things that have made me smile lately: this incredible photographthese gorgeously diverse models; this reminder that poetry is not (could never be) dead.

In case you missed it, my small sad poem “I Start Crying During the Best Part of the Film” was published in Rust+Moth. Do have a read. More poems are forthcoming from Reservoir Literary, Cosmonauts Avenue, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Tenderness Yea. I quite like most of the pieces & am so honoured that these publications have offered homes for them – & of course I cannot wait to hear your thoughts.

I am a poetry mentor for this year’s Glass Kite Anthology Summer Writing Studio, & working with all of my lovely mentees, critiquing their pieces, helping them discover new literary frontiers, makes me endlessly happy. If they are the future of poetry, then we are in good & loving hands.

This is how I am: paying attention to the music of the body.

This is how I am:

I met a new friend a few weeks ago who cares a great deal about Star Wars. I have watched all of the Star Wars films on his urging, & I’m pleased to report that I too now care a great deal about Star Wars.

For all my lovely writers in the room, have you read this article? I found it so refreshing & wonderful.

Here is shocking/incredible news: my short film SUPERNOVA has received quite a few more accolades. We were an official selection in the Laurie Nelson Film Festival & Newark International Youth Film Festival, shortlisted in the Best Sound Design & Best Young Filmmaker categories at the My Rode Reel Film Festival, & I received the Overall Best Actress award in the Singapore International Student Film Festival. How lucky I feel to have had some small part in creating this soft spinning blue thing.

There are so many atrocities shaking the world to its core. These days I am sometimes afraid to wake up & check the news because I know, deep in my marrow, that yet another horrible thing has happened overnight. Because even if only for a few minutes, I yearn to postpone that aching.

But also there is hope, & there is wonder, & there are sunsets, & there are odd facts inside the caps of Snapple bottles, & there is this haunting song, & there is this earnest Instagram caption, & there are these ethereal bubble portraits. Yes, there are people filled with hate, but also there are people who remind you to take your medicine. There are people who move snails into the grass instead of leaving them on the sidewalk to be stepped on. There are people who make cookie sandwiches & laugh like they’ve never once been lonely.

This is how I am: holding good things to the light. Making sure I don’t allow them to be drowned out by the cacophony.

Something I have been trying to keep in mind over these past weeks…

There is hope for us yet, & in this hope, there is a revolution. There must be.

No matter what, we must not go gentle.

So: this is how I am.

And you?

“All is not lost.” (Little Horoscopes for August)

(on 16 August, 2017 & with 4 Comments)

I’ve been feeling scattered this August, a little all over the place, not quite here or there. Energy fleeing my body. It has not particularly helped that my computer is out of commission, meaning far less writing, less Half Mystic work, more undefined hunger, more softening sadness.

I hope all of you are safe after Charlottesville. The news shook me deeply, having been very near the city just a few weeks ago, & yet it did not surprise me. How horrible that it did not surprise me.

If you’d like to help, here is such a lovely & constructive list from the ladies at A Cup of Jo. (I found light especially in this article.)

& of course, a reminder that I am a queer, neurodivergent woman & artist of colour, & supporting my own work – whether that is by reading my books, joining the love letter list, sharing your favourite blog posts with a friend, or sponsoring my writing on Patreon – helps me keep sharing it with you for years to come.

I hope you enjoy these horoscopes, friends, & that they might serve as a space to breathe today. I cannot wait to hear your thoughts in the comments.


Little Horoscopes for August

Cancer, anchor yourself to this wild & echoing life.
Pisces, there is progress even in stillness.
Taurus, do not blame yourself for this certain familiar shade of aching.
Aries, I promise you will not regret saying yes.
Leo, grow towards the sun, even if it’s not in the direction you first expected.
Scorpio, tell them you love them.
Gemini, this universe remembers the gifts we give her, knowing we’ll never get anything back.
Aquarius, sadness is not a dress you can grow out of.
Sagittarius, this dream will be so much more & so much less than you’ve imagined.
Capricorn, keep your eyes & your heart wide open.
Libra, you love like a tsunami & no one will ever turn that into something less than beautiful.
Virgo, all is not lost.

“Maybe love is only here to drown itself in all the wrong places & ruin the film for everyone.” (a poem for you)

(on 9 August, 2017 & with 10 Comments)

Thank you all so much for your kind words on Healing is a Verb a few weeks ago, my friends. I am so, so honoured to hear it touched you. I hope you know how much it means to me that you’ve allowed me into your lives in this capacity.

Here’s a small tender piece on love & film & sadness, originally published in the summer 2017 issue of the gorgeous journal Rust+MothI had a few really bright & beautiful days between the stormclouds last week, & I will freely admit that this publication was no small part of that – I have admired Rust+Moth for many years, & it is such a joy to see my work between their virtual pages.

This poem was painful to conceive & yet so, so easy to write. Isn’t it funny, isn’t it odd, isn’t it beautiful how sometimes the truest things happen like that, dancing & stumbling into being? I hope you enjoy it. Please do share your thoughts & feedback in the comments – tell me what emotions this poem evoked in you, or what particular scent or sound it reminded you of, or just share a part of your day today that you’ve been wanting to tell someone but couldn’t find the occasion to. I promise I will hold it close.

Have a beautiful rest of your week, friends. All my love. xx


I Start Crying During the Best Part of the Film

& you carry me out of the cinema & drive me home
because you’re in love with me & that’s what people
in love are supposed to do even if you’ve been
wanting to see this film for three weeks & you
were really looking forward to getting dinner after.
on the way home it’s raining & you’re humming under
your breath & your hand is on my knee at every red
light. let’s play a game where if we close our eyes loud
enough your hands will dance again & the raindrops will
travel up instead of down the car window & my father
will stop being so angry with me all the time. or let’s
play another where none of that will happen but my
sadness will finally suffocate me so you can drive back
& catch the end of the film. i’m no good at apology or
sleeping in cars but i swear i was just trying to find a way
to protect my collarbones. i always thought that’s what
love was supposed to do but maybe it’s only here to
drown itself in all the wrong places & ruin the film for
everyone. i wonder if you’re mad at me still. i wonder
if the highway is in love with the wheels of this car or
if kissing all the time just makes them tired of each other.
i wonder a lot of things. soon after that i fall asleep &
when i wake up the rain still hasn’t stopped but you’ve
carried me into the apartment & googled the way the
film ends & i’m still sad & looking for answers but this
time i think i know which way to turn to understand.
you give me a fortune cookie from the chinese takeout
you ordered & it says the best things in life are free & that’s
how i know you were never really mad at me in the first
place. your hair smells like rain. you ask me if i’ve taken
my meds today. nothing really hurts except for my chest.
i wish we’d seen the way the film ended, but i guess we’ll
have to settle for everything else instead.

Healing is a Verb

(on 26 July, 2017 & with 4 Comments)

“We cannot do much to escape the pain our illnesses inflict upon us – but with the words, we can tell our stories. We can ask questions, & we can listen with compassion to their answers. We can remind each other of the demons we have beaten over & over again. We can stand in solidarity against our illnesses. We can fight. We can hold each other close…”

Friends, I’m so excited to share with you today a project that you may have heard me speak about in past months & now is finally available for you to watch: my TEDx talk, entitled Healing is a Verb. This talk was very difficult to give (as you may notice by the many mistakes & slip-ups in the video) but I fancy perhaps that only adds to the truth of it.

I gave this talk in May at the TEDxYouth@SAS 2017 event. It centres around narratives of mental disorders, & how we might find community & solace in reaching out to fellow sufferers of often-silenced & stereotyped illnesses. The talk explores my own journey with mental illness & shares the stories of mentally ill readers who have inspired & been inspired by my work; I am honoured beyond expression to have been given this platform to share my story, & I hope you find a bit of light in it.

I encourage you to share this talk with your friends & social media followers (if you’d like, here’s a Twitter link to do the latter) – but, more importantly, please send it to your loved ones who suffer from mental disorders. It is wholly, undeniably, before & above all else, for them. If you’d like to do more to support my work, a reminder that I am always accepting tips via Paypal & Patreon; financially backing my art helps more than you know in its creation.

And finally: please do let me know your thoughts on Healing is a Verb. You lovelies already know that this subject is very raw & close to my heart, so any & all comments & feedback are welcome. Thank you for all you have brought & given & shown me through the years, for this gorgeous & unlikely community that has blossomed around something that was so close to bringing me nothing but pain. As I hope this talk begins to illustrate, it means the universe & more. xx