I'm sorry for being rather MIA over these past few weeks, my loves. The beginning of 2018 was marked by much travel—to Hong Kong & New Zealand & Japan & America more—so my Wifi connection has been quite spotty. It's been gorgeous but exhausting, & every new plane ride feels something like waking up or standing up or opening up. The sky holds so many shades of fable & wing.
This is how I am.
In case you missed it, I have exciting news: I was admitted to three of my top choice colleges, Princeton & Columbia & Brown Universities. This entire college admissions process has been very, very difficult on levels both emotional & intellectual, & I'm so furiously grateful that these incredible schools found some light in my applications. I will be travelling to the US in a few weeks to visit & make my final choice of university; if any readers reside in the area, please do shoot me a comment or email so that we may go out for coffee.
This is how I am: so overwhelmed yet still full of wonder.
This is how I am:
enjoying my Year of Inhale very much, although, as always, finding it rather difficult to take a break from the actual creating. This travel has helped a bit, in that it serves almost as an excuse to my own fickle head—something along the lines of these days will not last forever, of be here, now, in this place that is so foreign & familiar all at once, & the work & all the rest of it will fall into place.
I am listening to so much gorgeous music, which has certainly helped in that mission—Hayley Kiyoko's Expectations, The Neighbourhood's I Love You & self-titled, Made in Heights' Without My Enemy What Would I Do, The Weeknd's My Dear Melancholy, Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago... to name just a few. I'm already looking forward to compiling my 2018 love list, & it's only April.
"Everything you are / can & will be used against you." This year's publications have been few so far, but I am so very proud of this recent poem published in Indolent Books' What Rough Beast feature, chronicling the lives of minorities under the Trump administration. It's entitled "What My Mother Said to Me the First Time I Was Chosen for a Random Security Check at the Airport", & you can read it on the Indolent website here, or on the blog right here. I have been thinking often of this piece as I commute through airports around the world. It's sobering, I think, but worth lingering on still.
Speaking of "sobering but worth lingering on", a few essays I've been reading in planes & trains & cars & buses that you might find some light in: how an American terrorist is made ("Because I know exactly who Dylann Roof is, I know that he is hatred, and because I know that he is hatred, I understand why he thought he could do the impossible and trump the everlasting, the eternal."); the history behind an ugly & victimising word ("Do I think everyone who uses this phrase is doing it to make fun of male rape victims? Absolutely not."); women are afraid men will murder them ("We are polite in part because we know that if we make men mad, things might get very violent, very fast."); a letter from a furious teacher ("How dare you force me to choose between my own children and those that I teach.").
This is how I am:
I've realised, through my years living on a tiny island thousands of miles away & watching through a golden keyhole as America grows into itself, that this country is not the bright sanctuary that so many make it out to be. But also, I am realising more & more that it is not forsaken, & it is not devoid of hope. I am trying to hold that close.
This is how I am: thinking, always, about this small piercing longing that never fades, thinking how maybe some kind of longing is necessary for progress.
I'm hard at work on Half Mystic Journal's Issue V: Cadenza, this creation of swing jazz & tapping feet, midnight on cobblestoned streets, a love affair as old-fashioned as it is timeless. There is so much light here, fumbling & shining through the smoke; if you have not submitted your writing & music to Issue V yet, you truly must remedy that soon. We'd be honoured to hear your voice.
"Everyone should give this film a watch. It’s quick, poetic yet out of this world, and has a great message." My dear friend Rachel Poli wrote a small & lovely review of my first short film SUPERNOVA; I'm so grateful for her kind words.
This is how I am: in love with this & this & this. Also, Japanese chocolate, a very large stack of books, & Mumford & Sons' "Hopeless Wanderer", always my anthem through these long days of trench coats & taxi rides, jet lag & mistranslations—"hold me fast / hold me fast, 'cause I'm a hopeless wanderer / & I will learn / I will learn to love the skies I'm under..."
This is how I am: learning to love the skies I'm under.
Speaking of a very large stack of books, some lovely literature-related articles you might find a bit of light in: why children's books should be a little sad (from my darling Kate DiCamillo); six fairytales for the modern woman (they'll make you laugh until you realise how deeply true they are); writers' blocks (a quick fix for any creative dry spell); ten things I learned from Ursula K. Le Guin (god, I miss her more than words can say); assorted thoughts on imposter syndrome (a note for when we need to hear it most); my favourite gift to give (of course, of course—how could it be anything else?).
This is how I am:
the sakura in Japan were so tender, so full of mellifluous light. They reminded me of this poem from so long ago, one of the most popular from Heaven or This—"we are holding hands in the barrel of a gun. / they pull the trigger, but when she is kissing me / only cherry blossoms come out." I miss them deeply already, though it's only been a few days since I left them behind.
In case you missed it, my latest gathering was an intimate poetry reading & panel discussion with three other young Singaporean writers called YOUTH IS WASTED ON THE YOUNG. Had such a beautiful time talking poetry with you all—thank you for coming to see me, & please keep an eye on my social media for further event announcements very soon.
"Or, if there's one thing you taught me, it's that rain is another permutation of light—that the absence of sun is sun in itself." I shared a tiny poem snippet on Twitter the other day; the full thing is available to my lovely Patreon fireflies right here. All of the art I share with you is 100% funded by these sponsors, so please do join our family if you enjoy my work. Your support means more than you know.
This is how I am: keeping good company with faith. With apple pie. With good music. With ricocheting thunder. With in-betweens. With the skies I'm under.
So: this is how I am.