Last night I skyped with my family.

My nephew, now 3, managed to sit a little more peacefully in front of the camera.

In the past he would squirm and smash the camera off. His way of saying, Pay attention to me!

I bought him crayons, things to color, picture books to flip through, because mastering solitary activities is a comfort. He still likes to sit an adult down just to do things in their presence, though.

Even using the bathroom.

He intuits that bathrooming is a private activity, ie, he will ask for the door to be closed, but before that, he’ll invite you in first. Just in case.


banana tree

Summer 2015: crowding with family // I tend to be a solitary person but I am learning to leave solitude, because after a crowding my heart becomes a couple beats better at expanding and shrinking at will rather than at whim

// Photo notes: Fallen banana tree in the damp yard of my mother’s brother home in her hometown in Sitiawan, Malaysia

// here my mother’s family tapped rubber, had fruit trees, battled mosquitoes the size of eyes

shelving activities

Books I impulse-bought this past few days:

r. erica doyle’s proxy

Jeannette Winterson’s The Powerbook

Wendy Xu’s You Are Not Dead

Lucas de Lima’s Terraputa

A couple of other chaps and chaplets that have not yet arrived

What is this excitement? I want to write up compulsive loving descriptions of the experiences reading these incoming books–

“line breaks aren’t heart breaks”

Eight discourses between Myung Mi Kim and Divya Victor:


I have been sitting for a while with this really, really instructive (but not pedantic) dialog between two very wise and cool poets on poetics and hybridity and experimentation and appropriation and intertextuality and performance.


Divya Victor: What you’ve been saying about the usage of the term “hybridity” goes back to what we were saying about totalizing perception, totalizing a poetics. I like linking this up with what you said about process, and the use of source materials: there is no decision to use, it just couldn’t be helped. As I often say to my students: line breaks aren’t heartbreaks. Similarly, when you immigrate, it can’t be helped. That does not translate into a formal strategy. A strategy is something that can be helped. That’s what a strategy is: something deliberate used to create something else. Basically, my question is coming from a concern about a general trend in criticism that makes life experience (if I dare say that) into metaphors for writing.

Myung Mi Kim: I think this is a profound issue for me. This brings up important satellite questions about naming someone an experimental writer, avantgarde poet, and so on. How is it possible to render one’s actual, lived experience, one’s historical condition? Rather than saying “let’s just make it somehow akin to” … it seems to me that any sort of departure from the given is relegated to the “experiment.”

When I went to Korea, for the first time I realized in a resounding way something that I couldn’t sense in a US context — when someone would ask me “What’s happening in your work” — the quote-unquote “inscrutable,” or “experimental” — I could finally say “It’s not about that.” How can I find a way to indicate the actual experience when that experience doesn’t exist? There are no models, no modes, no form, no linguistic registers that are available. In a sense, you have to rework the entire continuum of language, form, prosody, whatever you’re drawn to as a poet. Saying that in a non-US context and having people say “Oh this is not a methodology, not a strategy, but that this comes out of a particular way in which there is no prior shape, no prior moment, no prior poetry or poetics that you can simply draw from.” You have to literally make it. Hand by hand, finger by finger, foot by foot. You have to make something that allows you, however uncomfortably or comfortably, to work that space — mentally, emotionally, historically, and culturally. Because nothing exists for how you are coming to your own condition.

It’s not, for me, a decision to “experiment.” But it is an “experiment” simply because it does not coalesce or does not hearken to what already exists. If that is what one means by “experiment,” OK then that is what I do. However, I am not necessarily working in the experimental tradition, or building on a genealogy of an experimental convention as it exits. One isn’t always taking adeparture from something that exists, one is making it for the first time.

Victor: I have an image of a guinea pig showing someone that part of its back with a patch of flesh charred and red with chemicals, saying “I am participating in this experiment. This is experimental.” The guinea pig is not in the position to ask the crafted questions or pose the hypothesis that the experiment then proves or disproves. My concern is that there is a distinct institutional privilege enacted in the ability to raise your hand and ask the right questions, to pose the likeable hypothesis that gets the funding. The access to this “ability” is problematic or compromised for some.