I saw EDGE OF TOMORROW and am not shy to say that I loved it. Tom Cruise delivers a surprisingly moving performance as a top brass ad exec type who is happy to be the face of the United States mili…
I wrote a post about my appreciation for the latest Tom Cruise movie. If the thought makes your face crinkle up real bad, you could try thinking of it as the latest Emily Blunt movie.
Rochelle Hurt, poet, Rust Belt and Ohio native, and author of THE RUSTED CITY, very, very kindly interviewed me for one of her posts as guest blogger for The Best American Poetry blog. I get pretty geeky in the process (par for the course)–her questions were rad. If you’d like to read about aesthetics, accessibility in poetry, Sookie Stackhouse, or read a poem about Man O’ War, here is the link to the interview.
My real recommendation is to read Rochelle’s book. For one thing, it is a novel in verse, and there’s no way to describe the work the prose poems do with large-scale formal conceit and emotion that is as moving as the experience of reading the book yourself. For those of us who lose gray matter stressing over ordering poems into something that approximates a book as opposed to a doorstop, I would point to THE RUSTED CITY a book of poems that is very confidently a book, and lovingly so. The stories of a Rust Belt city, a family, systemic ruin, labor, a daughter, and creation itself are all told through a perspective that is carefully crafted while embracing the inorganic skew that is a (un)natural result of the fractures of the era. I would recommend this collection especially to anyone who is interested in lyric character-growth, world-building, and love of people, or of the world.
Beautiful portraits from Li Wentao
The Asian female body as subject, not object. Oh, how I needed this art this week/month/year/lifetime.
(I need to write this down because it’s been bothering me)
Last night, American roommate was talking with my Malaysian friend who is bunking over at our place. He was explaining his ‘complicated’ Chinese name to her, that it has many layers of meaning. Roommate is fascinated. (Am bothered by…
One of my names is Lois (to my Singaporean family, who has never called me “Lois”, it is my “Christian” name.) I did not know myself as Lois until I was in the third grade—my parents heard that I was being made fun of for my Mandarin name, and ever since then, I went by Lois to Americans. This is totally unsolicited commentary, so if you would prefer that I delete it, just let me know and I will do so without question…
I really hear your respect for your American roommate’s experience. In addition to the truth of her experience, though, her being an American talking to and over non-American peers does put her in a place of privilege. It seems to me that part of being an American—ironically—is developing a strong sense of what it means for an immigrant to claim their rights here, even though many Americans have never been immigrants.
I find it interesting that the conversation about English/non-English names developed according to how lovely/authentic non-English names are to your roommate. I would ask someone, in this conversation, to unpack why they think one name is more “real” than another. Also, to unpack why, exactly, one name strikes them as more “lovely” than the other.
With regards to the “why weren’t you stronger/quicker” issue—how about referencing ways of thinking about (dis)ability/accommodation? Or even the current discourse about sexual harassment and victim-blaming. I would ask: Is it the individual’s responsibility or society’s responsibility to render the environment less hostile for marginalized people? If there is a standard of “strength” to which we hold individuals, how do we risk disregarding the varying abilities of those who are, conversely, “weak?” What if someone is an international student of color who has a debilitating anxiety disorder? Should they “just get over their anxiety” in order to perform “strength?” Why? So that they can be not held at fault by someone who has an opinion on how authentic their name is?
And: How does privilege (in this case, citizen’s privilege) affect the potential risks and rewards of standing up for oneself? Has your roommate had personal experiences where she felt/knew she had more to lose than other people, and navigated her environment accordingly? What are the safety nets that exist for people who might feel most confident standing up for themselves in confrontation? Someone who’s never had reason to fear losing their visa might feel more ready to have a conversation about immigrant issues on their terms (Backed by freedom of speech! Every American’s right!) than an actual immigrant who is constantly being bombarded with the semi-threatening message that “we should be grateful for the opportunity to be here in the first place.”
"The college admission process prioritizes American citizens, so the remaining spots for international students are very competitive. Plus there’s no way that my parents will be able to pay tuition, so I’ve got to get a scholarship. But I think I’ve got a good shot. My grades are good. I kicked the most field goals in the city last year. And I’m growing 180 liters of algae down the street. Oils extracted from algae can be converted into biofuels."
The very best of luck to you, Mini McDreamy.