in a few months, i will fly
away from these streets, out of
skin. in a few months, i will spend
two new years in vegetable markets
and watching lazy susans
spin our chipped china plates around.
from ‘Ancestors’ by Joanna Li
This is an excellent post (part one of two) by Vaughan on a cluster of Kiwi Asian women poets: Vanesssa Crofsky, Wen-Juenn Lee, Joanna Li, Renee Liang, Aiwa Pooamorn and Nina Powles.
Here is a taste of the introduction:
I was completing a chapter in the forthcoming 2019 book, English in the South, edited by Kyria Finardi and published by Eduel, Brazil, when I thought that I really must write a commentary regarding the influx of young Asian poets, who were born in Aotearoa New Zealand, or have arrived to live here for long periods. Why? Because my chapter is entitled Confronting the English language Hydra in Aotearoa New Zealand and bemoans the lack of recognition given to Asian languages in the country because of the domination of English language exponents and their monolingual expectations, and the concomitant definite lack of deference to Asian peoples per se — despite the fact they will be the second largest cultural demographic here by 2026.
This resolve further strengthened when I read poems in a chapbook provided me by Renee Liang, and entitled Tasting Words (2017) — in which there was considerable strong emotion displayed by these younger New Zealand women poets, of Asian heritage. The excellent Poetry Shelf postings, which Paula Green so wonderfully provides, further highlighted other poets, whom I had not been aware of, or insufficiently aware of. This is no arbitrarily superimposed grouping either, because their voices and verse are distinct. They need to be heard.
More than this, my own family, which is Asian (Chinese and Filipina), was forced to learn English — or not (!) when at school in both Hong Kong SAR and Philippines — while I have observed them somewhat caught between cultures at times. When they came to live in this, the skinny country of New Zealand, they were compelled to adjust. (Just as I tried to do when living in Brunei Darussalam, PR China, and Hong Kong SAR for so many years, in a sort of reverse diaspora. In fact, I spend considerable time in Asia nowadays and feel more comfortable there, by the way.)
Full post here