words. words. words.

After a fairly quiet start to the year, I published four pieces in quick succession:
  • 'From the Other Side', Meanjin Autumn 2019 edition (March)
  • 'How my father's garden taught me to slow down and connect', SBS Life (3 May)
  • Review of Lonely Asian Woman by Sharon Lam, The Lifted Brow (10 May)
  • Review of Things Nobody Knows But Me by Amra Pajalić, The Saturday Paper (18 May)
You can buy a copy of Meanjin here or at your local bookshop and read an excerpt here.

I worked on 'From the Other Side' as part of a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship and edited it at Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre last year. It's about many things, including saying goodbye to a manuscript and my early twenties, lipstick, writing, friendship and self-destruction vs. self-creation. At 3700 words, it's my longest and most ambitious. It took a year to write and features DIARY EXCERPTS.

It's rare that my work is published in print. I love holding my work to my heart and have enjoyed the slower response. I also love that I was published alongside my wonderful friends Adolfo Aranjuez (our essays speak to each other) and Rafeif Ismail (oh. my. heart.)

I wrote about growing food as an act of love and generosity. Dad had been asking for years, "When are you going to write about me?" Until a friend pointed out, I hadn't realised that I had written it from a place of love. (Much of my writing has come from pain or trauma.)

To go from reviewing books for local street press (Jul 2015 - Mar 2016) to The Saturday Paper... Then again, my first ever published work were art reviews of You Are Here for Scissors Paper Pen in 2015. I won a prize for one of the reviews. It was sponsored by a local wine company so I won $200 worth of wine. LOL. (bless you ACT Writers Centre.)

I've applied for an arts writing development opportunity (eep!) Part of me doubts my 'critic' abilities but another part of me is like, I've written some excellent criticism over the years.

Finally, I've been reading so much. I am in love with Franny ChoiSoft Science is divine and I love her column Periodic. I've read the first three and especially LOVE Periodic #3.

I also love Sally Wen Mao. I love how she describes Oculus, her second poetry collection, as:

obsessed with smartphones, and webcams, and this kind of gaze. It’s obsessed with spectacle and being looked at, but it also is aware of all the violence that comes with being looked at.

I love this conversation between Sally and Anne Anlin Cheng, author of Ornamentalism.

And I love this interview with Anne. It explains so. much.

Alyssa Russell: Are you worried about using the phrase “the yellow woman”?
Anne Anlin Cheng: I certainly don’t use the term lightly. Coming to say this phrase constitutes something of a therapeutic process for me. It is an ugly term, but I think our “delicacy” about using this term itself says something about the weird combination of aestheticization and denigration directed at this figure. After all, we say white women, black women, brown women, but we do not say yellow woman. It is not because she is exempt from feminist concerns; far from it. And yet the bulk of feminist theory—French feminism, white feminism, black feminism—has overlooked her beyond granting her a nominal pathology.
I use the term “yellow woman” rather than “Asian woman in the West” or “Asian American woman” because these more ameliorative, politically acceptable terms do not conjure the queasiness of this inescapably racialized and gendered figure. I am not so much interested in recuperating “yellowness” as a gesture of political defiance as I am intent on grasping the genuine dilemma of its political exception. What does it mean to survive as someone too aestheticized to suffer injury but so aestheticized that she invites injury?
What makes the yellow woman the exception in the larger category of “women of color” is precisely the precariousness of her injury, a fact that is at once taken for granted and questioned. This figure is so suffused with representation that she is invisible, so encrusted by aesthetic expectations that she need not be present to generate affect, and so well known that she has vanished from the zone of contact. I think it is important and about time that we name the ugly racialization behind her beauty.

I've long been uneasy about racism I experience as an East Asian woman. Like, it was bad but it wasn't 'that bad'. The violence/threat to my body/self was subtle, insidious...

Like Ming-Zhu Hii, I have been thinking about the violence of looking.

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