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 photograph; these 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.
So: this is how I am.