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.
Apologies for the super late notice but I’m doing a gig tonight! It’s part of Amplify, a series of live music and literary performances by local artists from the Western suburbs. Tonight is Tariro Mavondo, Gabriela Georges, Ruby-Rose Pivet-Marsh and me.
‘[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.
Are you a South Asian arts writer living in Victoria? Sangam: Performing Arts Festival of South Asia and Diaspora has put together this pretty incredible paid mentorship. You get:
- a workshop with me and Sonia Nair on 6 Feb 2021
- support to write a response to a work or works at Sangam 2021
- assistance securing a publication outcome with Sangam’s publishing partners, Peril Magazine and South Asian Today
- $300 participant fee
EOIs close this Fri 15 Jan so apply now! And follow Sangam on Facebook or Instagram for more info about the festival. The full program will be released 17 Jan and the festival takes place 20 Feb to 13 Mar at Abbotsford Convent, the Drum Theatre, Dancehouse Melbourne and Bunjil Place.
Damn, what a year. All I remember is feeling utterly gobsmacked and speechless at every turn, so it’s quite a shock to look back and find that somehow I rustled up all these words. Huge thanks to everyone who commissioned or booked or hired me – or sent me a coffee – going freelance at the start of lockdown was frankly terrifying and for a moment I feared I had done something very stupid. I could not have survived without the support of editors, collaborators, readers and friends. I couldn’t be more grateful. Here’s some of what I’ve been up to…
Underfoot – secret histories of Footscray, June 2020, with Liz Crash.
Essays and opinion
We need new names, Silent Dialogue / 沉默的对话 (print, forthcoming).
Ghost in the mirror, Disobedient Daughters (print, forthcoming).
I can’t apply for another grant, Un magazine 14.2 (print, audio and digital).
Walking away, backwards; or woman-lite in women’s lit, Feminist Writers Festival, 20 November 2020.
Sexting at the end of the world, Kill Your Darlings, 14 September 2020.
Adding people of colour to a racist workplace isn’t the answer, Overland, 7 September 2020.
Navigating Australia’s mutual obligation system has been humiliating and counterproductive, The Guardian, 31 August 2020.
Genderfeels in nomads’ land, Them, 13 August 2020.
It doesn’t work like that, VCOSS, 16 July 2020.
How coronogamy (coronavirus-induced monogamy) has changed my sex life, MTV, 24 June 2020.
What’s wrong with saying ‘ni hao’, HuffPost, 15 June 2020.
Labor’s attack on migrant workers is a painful reminder of our sad history, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 May 2020, with Sanmati Verma.
Still life, The Saturday Paper, 12 September 2020. Originally commissioned for Assembly for the Future (text and audio).
May and June, On immortality and kindness, 5 August 2020 (text and audio).
Voluptatem (forthcoming – commission for Deborah Kelly’s CREATION project).
A buoyant life, The Saturday Paper, 14 November 2020.
Chinatown Melbourne is a one-way street that took a turn, Culture Trip, 29 June 2020.
The lack of diversity in Australia’s sperm banks, ABC, 11 June 2020.
US independent booksellers rally together via Bookshop.org, Books + Publishing, 6 May 2020.
Coronavirus ban prevents Chinese artists from entering Australia, ArtsHub, 6 February 2020.
Authors raise thousands for firefighters amid fresh attacks on the arts, ArtsHub, 15 January 2020.
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) review – delightful and distinctive queer romcom, The Guardian, 27 November 2020.
Loaded, The Saturday Paper, 7 November 2020.
Revenge, The Saturday Paper, 26 September 2020.
Guilt mountain, Meanjin, Spring 2020.
Tell Me Why game review: a poetic exploration of memory against a stunning Alaskan landscape, The Guardian, 14 September 2020.
The Baby-Sitters Club: the perfect PG escape for millennials and their kids – or anyone, really, The Guardian, 20 August 2020.
Sex, life: The fundamental queerness of ‘Vida’, The Monthly, 16 July 2020.
‘Dear Australia’: dispatches from a world overdue for a reckoning, The Guardian, 2 July 2020.
Sneaking up for a gut punch, Witness, 20 March 2020.
Asia TOPA: Virtual Intimacy, Witness, 17 March 2020.
Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep, Peril, 11 March 2020.
Saigon, Arts Centre Melbourne/Asia TOPA, ArtsHub, 17 March 2020.
Samsara, Arts Centre Melbourne/Asia TOPA, ArtsHub, 12 March 2020.
Sva Kranti, Footscray Community Arts Centre/Asia TOPA, ArtsHub, 4 March 2020.
Torch the Place, Arts Centre Melbourne/Asia TOPA, ArtsHub, 19 February 2020.
Boobs, Arts Centre Melbourne, ArtsHub, 3 February 2020.
Yellow peril isn’t what it used to be, Meanjin, Summer 2019/2020.
Lists and lifestyle
A local’s guide to Seddon, Time Out Melbourne, 5 November 2020.
Playlist: Music of the Sinosphere, Peril, 24 June 2020.
Playlist: Teacup in a storm, Peril, 31 May 2020.
Talks, panels and workshops
The Drop-In sessions for Djed Press, The Suburban Review, Western Sydney University’s The Writing Zone
Panel for Critics’ Campus, MIFF
Lecture for RMIT School of Media and Communication
Presentations (with Liz Crash) for Maribyrnong City Council and Women’s Circus
The personal is political, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health conference
Inaugural writing fellow, Liminal magazine x Hyphenated projects
Shortlisted, The Australia Institute writer-in-residence program
Interviews and press
Online: Interview #147 — Jinghua Qian, Liminal, 7 September 2020, by Maddee Clark with illustrations by Viet-My Bui.
Online: NüProfile: Jinghua Qian on why ‘China-watching’ is problematic, and un-belonging in Australia, NüVoices, 30 September 2020, by Annabelle Jarrett and edited by Jessie Lau.
Radio and online: Senator Eric Abetz’s controversial questions about loyalty rattle Chinese communities in Australia, ABC, 22 October 2020, by Bang Xiao and Stephen Dziedzic.
Television and online: Report reveals racist abuse experienced by Asian Australians during coronavirus pandemic, 7.30, ABC, 23 July 2020, presented by Jason Om.
Podcast: Life Under Lockdown, Transdemic podcast episode three, 19 July 2020, by Sam Elkin, Gemma Cafarella and Darcy O’Connell.
Online: Critics step aside in show of solidarity for greater diversity in media, NITV News, 28 June 2020, by Nadine Silva.
Online: Profile in Correspondences newsletter, 5 April 2020, by Emma Thomson.
Press for Underfoot
Radio: Sense of Place: Jinghua Qian and Liz Crash, Footscray, Blueprint, ABC Radio National, 10 October 2020, presented by Jonathan Green.
Radio: Liz Crash and Jinghua Qian on Underfoot, Tuesday Breakfast, 3CR, 22 September 2020, presented by Genevieve Siggins and the Tuesday Breakfast team.
I also made more than a dozen playlists – hear here – and ate my way through every single meat pie sold at the supermarket. I’m so ready for a new year and new obsessions. Fingers crossed for 2021.
‘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.