You can listen to my essay on the politics of changing my name here via Soundcloud. Kim Cheng Boey’s poem for Silent Dialogue is also available as audio, or you can order a print copy of the Silent Dialogue book here featuring Maria Tumarkin, Elizabeth Tan, Julie Koh and many more.
I grew up thinking there were seven fundamental flavours: suān, tián, kǔ, là, xián, xiān, má. The first five translate easily – sour, sweet, bitter, hot, salty – but the other two don’t own a home on the English tongue. It was a shock to realise that something as material as flavour could be coloured and even erased by language. But eating has many dimensions beyond what happens in your mouth, as Sam van Zweden chronicles in this thoughtful debut, Eating with My Mouth Open.– Eating with My Mouth Open | The Saturday Paper
I have an essay in this gorgeous publication that accompanies the Disobedient Daughters exhibition at Counihan Gallery. Edited by curator Sophia Cai and designed by Joy Li, you can order a copy through the publisher, Heart of Hearts Press.
If you’re in Melbourne, please also check out the exhibition which is on at Counihan Gallery, from 6 February to 21 March. Thank you especially to artist Meng-Yu Yan, whose work my piece riffs off.
For the Guardian’s Stream Team column, I wrote about the 2004 romcom, Saving Face. Smash Valentine’s Day and the Year of the Ox with this gaysian classic that celebrates mothers and daughters pushing back on patriarchy, shame and prejudice.
There’s a book launch for Silent Dialogue 沉默的对话 tomorrow night in Collingwood if you’d like to join us in a celebration and meet some of the folks involved in the project. The book is an illustrated multilingual publication that accompanies the Silent Dialogue exhibition with images of original artworks and specially commissioned pieces of original writing by leading scholars and writers from across the country. I’ll be reading from my essay in the book, ‘We need new names’, which looks at the politics of changing your name.
Fri 5 Feb 2021
6:15 pm to 7:30 pm
Art Echo Gallery, Collingwood
free | booking required
You can also order the Silent Dialogue book here.
‘[Evading censorship] felt a lot like a game, actually – a futile yet addictive game that made your heart race as you tried to jump from story to story, ducking and weaving, squeezing as much as you could through an ever-shrinking space.’
For The Saturday Paper’s culture section, I wrote about reliving the anxiety and adrenaline of working as a journalist in China while playing the dystopian newsroom simulation game Not for Broadcast. Read it here.
‘Arts funding is a cancer. Applying for it has become its own job, a job no one enjoys or wants.’
For un Magazine 14.2, ANTI/ANTE, I wrote about the perverse relationship between art, money, and survival, and why I want to set it on fire and start over. Read or listen at the link.
For The Guardian, I reviewed Monica Zanetti’s teen romcom, Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt), a pretty charming story of queer love – romantic, familial, and intergenerational.
‘Zanetti cleverly plays with the idea that our queer predecessors paved the way for how we live now, but as individuals can be just as bumbling and out of touch as anyone else when it comes to dealing with teenagers. We might idolise OWLs (“older wiser lesbians”) but they’re only flightless, bug-eyed humans after all.’
As an AFAB nonbinary person, many feminist and women’s spaces welcome me – but often that welcome is itself a form of trans erasure, an insistence on seeing us as the genders we were assigned. I wrote about my uncomfortable relationship with feminist literary spaces for Feminist Writers Festival.
‘I’m pretty accustomed to not feeling at home anywhere – this is often a good thing, a productive tension. The can of worms fertilises the soil. But whether it’s Feminist Writers Festival, Facebook writers’ groups, or other feminist literary initiatives like the Stella Prize, I think it’s important to remember that you can’t simply tweak the category of woman to accommodate nonbinary people. Nonbinary disturbs the foundations of binary gender because it’s supposed to. It’s intentionally an interruption, a question as well as an identity.’
My first profile for The Saturday Paper is on musical theatre icon Nancye Hayes – aka ‘Nancye with an E’ – who will soon celebrate six decades in show business.