glass_icarus: (french quarter)
week of win, day 3;

It's a Trek-heavy kind of day, apparently!

+ Total Eclipse of the Heart- William Shatner and Lin Yu Chun

+ Zoe Saldana talks Spock/Uhura

+ An old interview with George Takei and Masi Oka:

+ Nano Trek!

+ For the New Yorkers: Columbia University's hosting a panel discussion on Asian Americans in the fashion industry this coming Sunday, as a part of APAAM (Asian Pacific American Awareness Month)! Tickets are only $5, and can be purchased here. (Some details can also be seen at angry asian man, for those of you who don't like Facebook.)
glass_icarus: (daniel liu jacket)
People have been trying to kill me since I was born,
a man tells his son, trying to explain
the wisdom of learning a second tongue.

It's an old story from the previous century
about my father and me.

The same old story from yesterday morning
about me and my son.

It's called "Survival Strategies
and the Melancholy of Racial Assimilation."

It's called "Psychological Paradigms of Displaced Persons,"

called "The Child Who'd Rather Play than Study."

Practice until you feel
the language inside you
, says the man.

But what does he know about inside and outside,
my father who was spared nothing
in spite of the languages he used?

And me, confused about the flesh and the soul,
who asked once into a telephone,
Am I inside you?

You're always inside me
, a woman answered,
at peace with the body's finitude,
at peace with the soul's disregard
of space and time.

Am I inside you? I asked once
lying between her legs, confused
about the body and the heart.

If you don't believe you're inside me, you're not,
she answered, at peace with the body's greed,
at peace with the heart's bewilderment.

It's an ancient story from yesterday evening

called "Patterns of Love in Peoples of Diaspora,"

called "Loss of the Homeplace
and the Defilement of the Beloved,"

called "I Want to Sing but I Don't Know Any Songs."

-- Li-Young Lee

Also, a signal-boost: the lovely [personal profile] such_heights will be running a queer vidshow at Vividcon, and she needs your help!
The vidshow is We're Here, We're Queer, and it's pretty much what it says on the tin: vids that are focused on canonically LGBT/queer/trans* characters. Opened up to gen, het, slash, poly, angst, drama, comedy, in fandoms big and small, hopefully there will be a bit of everything!

Please head over to her post if you have suggestions.
glass_icarus: (zhang ziyi)
Trigger warning applies.

Dear Lonely Heart of the Industrially Advantaged World

i know it gets hard
being on your own

you saw in the movies
that Lucy Liu can be pretty,
kick ass, and screw like a rabbit

and those girls in “The Joy Luck Club”
cry their eyes out in shame whenever
they denigrate the FAMILY

your college roomie brought over
that bright, talented Filipina wife

and for the record:
they are very very happy )

[Listen to the spoken word here.]
glass_icarus: (Default)
Leaving Chinatown

Slicing a mango to share between us, your mother
smiles at the grinning fool I've become, pours me
more and more wine. You’re working late uptown.
Green platanos searing in oil, saffron rice boiling,

black beans simmer with sofrito, chili, red onion
until steam clouds the room, tasting of salt,
wetting my eyes. What lies between us feels thin
as this mist, as strange. How real is it? When she takes

my face in her hands as she would open a fruit,
her ravaged voice cutting through me, I see her
as she must have been once, afraid of nothing—long before

she fell in love with your father, a man who shattered
what he touched, who left her eyes galled by all the other
faces, like yours, she might have looked into with love.

-- Suji Kwock Kim


thanks to the lovely [ profile] avendya, i am now fairly set up over at dreamwidth: glass_icarus! the intro post is made, as well as a bit of personal fandom history, if you guys are interested. :D

i haven't decided what i'm doing yet, journal-wise, but i don't plan to leave LJ for the foreseeable future (unless the majority of my fandoms decide to migrate, which is extremely unlikely as i have many of them), so do not panic! i'm definitely not about to jump ship. &hearts
glass_icarus: (angelina)
Oh, Texas. Sometimes I don't even know what to say about you. I am having some trouble with this link today, so here are the relevant pieces of information (the topic of discussion was voter identification legislation) in case it doesn't work for you guys.

"Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?"
-- Texas Representative Betty Brown (R), on Tuesday.

“Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”
-- Brown, to Organization of Chinese Americans representative Ramey Ko.

Her spokesman said that Democrats “want this to just be about race.”

I've spent the last couple of days trying to decide if this is funnier or more insulting. Republican Party, when are you going to realize that minorities do, in fact, exist?

... Anyway! I'm tired of ending things on a depressing note, so have an old favorite of mine for Poetry Month:

as freedom is a breakfastfood, by e.e. cummings )
glass_icarus: (Default)
the fear of long words

On the first day of classes, I secretly beg
my students Don't be afraid of me. I know
my last name on your semester schedule

is chopped off or probably misspelled—
or both. I can't help it. I know the panic
of too many consonants rubbed up
against each other, no room for vowels

to fan some air into the room of a box
marked Instructor. You want something
to startle you? Try tapping the ball of roots

of a potted tomato plant into your cupped hand
one spring, only to find a small black toad
who kicks and blinks his cold eye at you,
the sun, a gnat. Be afraid of the X-rays

for your teeth or lung. Pray for no dark spots.
You may have pneumonoultromononucleosis—
coal lung. Be afraid of money spiders

tiptoeing across your face while you sleep
on a sweet, fat couch. But don't be afraid
of me, my last name, what language I speak
or what accent dulls itself on my molars.

I will tell jokes, help you see the gleam
of the beak of a mohawked cockatiel. I will
lecture on luminescent sweeps of ocean, full

of tiny dinoflagellates oozing green light
when disturbed. I promise dark gatherings
of toadfish and comical shrimp just when you think
you are alone, hoping to stay somehow afloat.

-- Aimee Nezhukumatathil
glass_icarus: (Default)
Okay, so today is also not a poetry day, but that's because I want to mention this man:

"I have a huge political problem with the role. It was essentially accepting a form of racial profiling. I think it's repulsive. But it was the first time I had a chance to blow stuff up and take a family hostage. As an actor, why shouldn't I have that opportunity? Because I'm brown and I should be scared about the connection between media images and people's thought processes?" (in New York Magazine, commenting about his recurring role as a terrorist on TV's "24")

There are a ton of reasons why I admire Kal Penn: his acting skills (see: Kumar, Gogol of The Namesake, Kutner of House...), his sense of humor, his approachability, the way he presents himself to the world. He isn't afraid of expressing his opinion or speaking out against prejudice (see the above quote), and he stumped for Obama during the presidential campaign alongside many other celebrities and speakers.

Now, Kal Penn is leaving House to work for Obama at the White House [warning: House spoilers!], and I find myself speechlessly, hopelessly proud:

"I've been thinking about [moving into politics] for a while. It's probably because of the value system my grandparents instilled in me. They marched with Gandhi in the Indian independence movement, and that was always in the back of my head. So the past couple of years I thought about it a little more ... and I thought this might be the right time to go off and do something else."

Rock on, brother. Rock on. \o/
glass_icarus: (sott: sandra)
So today's post was going to be another poetry post, because I've got lots more of the pretty to share, but no. I am now too pissed off to do so.

I meant to post about Lori Phanachone last month, but I never got around to it. Lori is a Laotian-American, 3.9-GPA-wielding National Honors Society student who refused to take the English Language Development Assessment test because it was demeaning and racist. The reason she had to take it?

The school district's curriculum coordinator, Lori Porsche, said taking the test is mandatory because Phanachone indicated on her school registration that English was not the first language spoken in her home. Her parents are Laotian and still speak little English.

Phanachone, who was born in California and lived in upstate New York before moving to Storm Lake with her family in 2006, said she has never been enrolled in any English Language Learning or English as a Second Language program.

"Someone told me I should have put English as my first language when I registered for school," Phanachone said. "But I refused. I will not deny who I am. And I will not disrespect my culture or my mother."

Well. Despite the school district's claims when working with AALDEF, who is representing Lori, that her scholarships and National Honors Society membership would not be threatened by her protest, that NHS membership got revoked last Friday "due to her failure to maintain 'standards of scholarship, leadership, service and character[.]'"

Are you fucking kidding me? That girl could have been me. Lori Phanachone worked hard for years to get to where she is, just like any number of high school students, and her academic future is being threatened because she had the balls to stand up and say "No, that's racist. No, I won't play your games by your rules, because they are unfair." Post-racial society, my fucking ass.
glass_icarus: (Default)
Here in the United States, there is an English as a Second Language exam that they administer to multilingual students. I have always had a certain facility with languages; even though I moved to America two years before I was enrolled in kindergarten, my familiarity with English was so far beyond my peers that I never had to take it. I was reading chapter-books and learning dinosaur names by the time most of my classmates were learning to spell. I have no memory of even being approached on the subject of ESL, although eighteen years have passed since then and my memories of elementary school have always been rather hazy and attached to a feeling of general boredom/isolation.

I speak, I write, I read English as if it were my first language because I love languages, yes. What the ESL test and the American school system don't recognize: I do so also because I lost my mother tongue when I was three.

My clearest memories of my early childhood are these:

I never went to Chinese school on Saturdays with all the other children in our area. My mother tried to take me once, but I was so intimidated that I cried inconsolably until the teacher called her to take me home again, not an hour later. I never set foot in that school again. My mother tried to teach me herself, for a while: there were a few times that she brought out her brush pen and ink and wrote strokes for me to copy on paper. I dreamed of music though, as a child, and because my parents loved me and were indulgent, I spent all my weekends thereafter learning to play the piano and the violin, until the pens and inks were eventually put away.

I went to kindergarten, curious and very small and as shy as I was eager to make friends. At the age of five, I wanted to be like everyone else, so much so that on my first spelling test, I misspelt "apple" deliberately so I wouldn't stand out too much. My teacher knew that I knew better, so she confronted me in front of my parents. My mother shouted at me then, not understanding, I think, my need to be liked; was it not better to excel? Was it not better to learn more, better, faster than everyone else, so that I could go somewhere, become something? Something beyond all the other (white) children, she didn't say; somewhere I would be recognized and lauded despite the color of my skin. I realize these things only in retrospect, of course. Back then, I simply nodded and turned in test after perfect test, and mostly sat alone reading my books during recess.

There are Chinese picture-books that I remember reading before I ever set foot in an American school. I had a set of books about a family of mice, beautifully illustrated; I had a set of Chinese folktale books. I vaguely recall a book with animal butts as well, though the subject escapes me now. I even had an audio version, in Mandarin, of Journey to the West, which my parents played in the car sometimes when we were driving long distances. I'm certain there were many others, lost to time and circumstance. My parents read to me on occasion because it was a thing we all enjoyed, but I spent many afternoons sitting by myself, happily devouring page after colorful page, word after beautiful word.

My mother likes to tell these stories: how she taught me over 2,000 characters when I was a baby, using flash cards, and how I pointed to each word with perfect comprehension as she spoke. How I read piles of books voraciously- both silently and aloud- all by myself. How I once recited flawlessly all the Tang poetry I'd heard from my mother. How I once spoke Mandarin with a perfect Beijing accent, that curl of the tongue which neither of my parents possess. How the sum of my knowledge, at three years old, was greater than the pieces left now to crumble slowly in my hands. If I picked up one of those picture-books today, I wouldn't be able to read a single page, in its entirety.

There are some losses that I cannot now remedy. I am ten years past the optimal learning period, and though my language skills are not entirely lost to disuse, the grace by which I learned during childhood, at least, is long gone. I have tried both in high school and in college to reclaim my language; both times, I had to prioritize absorbing science over re-absorbing my mother tongue. But even if I started, at this very minute, to learn Chinese again, I could not now recreate the wonder of reading those picture-books for the very first time, or ask my grandparents- three of them now dead- to tell me their family stories. I could not now think or dream in Chinese the way that I do in English, the thought-patterns of my early childhood irrevocably overwritten. Even if I started now to learn the poetry of Du Fu and Li Bai, most of the nuances and secondary meanings would still be filtered through the knowledge of my tutors or of my parents, absorbed secondhand. Even if I reclaimed my mother tongue today, I would always have these caveats, my mastery always fragmented and not-quite-complete.

English was my second language, but it might as well have been my first. Even though I was never tested, these are the scars that I will always bear.

two things

Apr. 4th, 2009 12:15 pm
glass_icarus: (Default)
before I leave for Boston today! (Last-minute day-trips FTW! :D)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, [ profile] search_soleil! &hearts Also, have a poem:


“Britain is interesting from a dental standpoint.
They won the war, but they lost their teeth.”
— Mike Myers in April 1999
Vanity Fair: Hollywood Issue

When the empire disintegrated, the world
shattered like a glass Pepsi bottle, a fiasco
where the shards of former colonies flow

into a syrupy run, crashing and jostling
the other. The grand corporeal
vessel dissolves though corporations

rush to suture the lacerations, to coalesce
the bodies under a fortune flag. Perhaps

middle-aged women and beer-bellied
men ponder such concerns at yoga
class, stretching their souls alongside the throbbing
machines of physical enhancement. The pulleys burn
to and fro like a bad episode of the Industrial

Revolution while the surplus holy conduct
the journey from Home to Om. In our States,

the Spirit arrives imported, waits
for the cell phones to stop ringing, acts
the patient profit for global souls.

In the spill of national borders, the mystic
resides on the other edge of the waters,
or in Rumi’s case, the other side

of the grave. His flushed readers ruminate
through visions which translate death
into transitory celebration, poetry

into carnal knowledge. Amidst this carnival, posed
like a bharatanatyam beauty, Mike Myers palms
a personal organizer, Om legible like the cross

of lifelines on rough hand. Unlike the syrup turned

to sores, the dental to decay, infection
of cross-cultural contaminants
inciting the boundaries to fester,

we know Mike is healthy and wise
because he still possesses a proper set
of sparkling North American teeth.

-- Purvi Shah
glass_icarus: (Default)
So! April, in addition to being National Poetry Month, is also traditionally Asian American Awareness Month, and having been smacked in the face with Fail of a racial nature all over the damn place, I've decided that it's important to me personally to highlight both. My goal for the next four weeks is to promote awareness in this space of racial issues, identity issues, and stereotypes specific to me, as an Asian-American woman. Following this theme, have some reading to kick off April:

For A New Citizen Of These United States

Forgive me for thinking I saw
the irregular postage stamp of death;
a black moth the size of my left
thumbnail is all I've trapped in the damask.
There is no need for alarm. And

there is no need for sadness, if
the rain at the window now reminds you
of nothing; not even of that
parlor, long like a nave, where cloud-shadow,
wing-shadow, where father-shadow
continually confused the light. In flight,
leaf-throng and, later, soldiers and
flags deepened those windows to submarine.

But you don't remember, I know,
so I won't mention that house where Chung hid,
Lin wizened, you languished, and Ming-
Ming hush-hushed us with small song. And since you
don't recall the missionary
bells chiming the hour, or those words whose sounds
alone exhaust the heart--garden,
heaven, amen--I'll mention none of it.

After all, it was just our life,
merely years in a book of years. It was
1960, and we stood with
the other families on a crowded
railroad platform. The trains came, then
the rains, and then we got separated.

And in the interval between
familiar faces, events occurred, which
one of us faithfully pencilled
in a day-book bound by a rubber band.

But birds, as you say, fly forward.
So I won't show you letters and the shawl
I've so meaninglessly preserved.
And I won't hum along, if you don't, when
our mothers sing Nights in Shanghai.
I won't, each Spring, each time I smell lilac,
recall my mother, patiently
stitching money inside my coat lining,
if you don't remember your mother
preparing for your own escape.

After all, it was only our
life, our life and its forgetting.

-- Li-Young Lee


glass_icarus: (Default)
just another fork-tongued dragon lady

October 2017

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