Do you ever write about me?
Mother, what do you think?
You are always where I begin.
Always the child who wanted
to be a boy, so you could be
spared by your mother-in-law.
Always the ear that hears you
tried to translate my poems
with a bilingual dictionary.
Always the pen wishing
it could re-write the years
you fled from, those Red-
Guarded days and nightmares.
Always the lump in my throat:
how you waited every evening
at all the bus stops in the city
for the grandfather I would
never meet. Always the lips
wishing they could kiss those
mouths you would approve of.
To sing the evening home, the lover prepares
a pot of lentil stew – her phone lighting up to
the news of love’s imminent arrival, imagining
her lover’s footsteps across the swollen field,
damp with longing, her lover’s steady hand
gripping her smartphone to navigate towards
some notion of home, their flat an unfamiliar
place of worship, their bodies growing close
and moving apart with the regularity of heart-
beat, blood-breath. There the lover is, running to
catch a bus she knows will take her somewhere
so she can feel once again the sensation of lack –
wondering at her lover’s motions throughout the flat,
how her feet must press insistently on the floor with
each step, how the orchid must have stretched itself
a few millimetres overnight, how the stew must be
whispering on the stove and the table set for dinner.
The lovers are gentler with each other now because
they have memorized each other’s fears like daily
prayer: how too much salt brings back the years of
loneliness, how a warm bath may be more necessary
than a rough kiss after a day’s absence of tenderness.
The lovers are gentler because they have grown too
knowledgeable to love any other way. When one asks
the other to fling her onto the bed, the lover might say:
Do you actually want me to? And the lover might reply:
No, I don’t. Such asking becomes routine, almost like
walking down the aisle of a supermarket at evening,
but it is what they do best as lovers. Beyond desire
and its petty dramas, the two lovers will have their
tapestry of days and nights, their hands tempered by
love, clasped bodies holding their wounds at bay.
Upcoming Readings, Panels and Talks
July 2017: Interviewer, Literary Salon with Helen Mort, English Shared Futures Conference, Newcastle.
July 2017: Panelist with Hannah Lowe and Jennifer Wong, English Shared Futures Conference, Newcastle.
July 2017: Reading, Transatlantic Poetry with Chen Chen, curated by R.A. Villanueva.
May 2017: Panelist, Poetry Across the Atlantic Since 2000, Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford.
May 2017: Reading, Free Verse: The Poetry Magazine Fair.
May 2017: Moderator, Creating China: Creative Writing Across Genres, China Exchange.
Apr 2017: Reading, The Poetry Review Spring Issue Launch, The House of Illustration Gallery.
Apr 2017: Reading, Launch of Bare Fiction Magazine Issue 9, Waterstones Birmingham.
Apr 2017: Reading, Launch of Rishi Dastidar’s Ticker-Tape, George Street Social, Oxford.
Mar 2017: Reading and Panelist, Poetics of Home Conference, The Institute of English Studies.
Jan 2017: Reading, Keats Celebration on the Eve of St. Agnes, Guildhall Art Gallery.
Organizer: Mary Jean Chan
Poetry Panel on Diversity in British Publishing
Date: February 24th, 2017 (Friday)
Address: 11 Bedford Square, WC1B 3RF
This poetry panel will feature distinguished members of the poetry and publishing sector in the UK, who shall discuss recent diversity trends in British poetry publishing.
Dr. Nathalie Teitler, Director of the Complete Works Program
Kayo Chingonyi, Poet
Emma Paterson, Literary Agent at Rogers, Coleridge and White (RCW)
Kish Widyaratna, Editorial Assistant at Picador and Contributing Editor at The White Review
An Evening of Poetry on Chinese Identit(ies), Place and Politics in the 21st Century
Date: January 27th, 2017 (Friday)
Address: Goodenough College, Mecklenburgh Square, WC1N 2AB
This poetry event aims to interrogate notions of Chineseness, in relation to concepts of home, place and diaspora. There will be a reading from poets, followed by a discussion and Q&A session.
Sarah Howe, Poet
Hannah Lowe, Poet
Jennifer Wong, Poet
A Tapestry of Narratives: Conversations through Poetry
31 March, 2012
Conference theme: What Makes a Good Society?
Watching the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's TED talk, "The Danger of a Single Story", was a powerful reminder for me that ideas about what constitutes a "good" society can only emerge from the tapestry of narratives that we weave everyday of our lives. In this TEDx talk, I use poetry to explore the importance of genuine discourse and dialogue in furthering our daily attempts at building a better society. I was selected to join the conference speaker line-up in March 2012 after winning the TEDxSwarthmore Student Challenge.