Things I Didn’t Know I Loved

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School’s back in session. I did feel apprehensive on my choices even though I discussed it with my advisor (who is retiring this semester, boo) and read the syllabi. But how often do syllabi only tell one side of the story? All in all, I think this will be a cool semester.

The workshop is definitely going to be interesting. We have to generate 100 pages over the course of the semester through prompts provided and side projects we’ll be doing. My biggest fear is public performance so of course, we have to memorize a section of 200 words from a fictional piece that inspired us. As previously discussed on Twitter, I’d love to do something from Shakespeare. Like Portia’s speech from the Merchant of Venice. Or, like my friend A reminded me, Katharina’s speech at the end of The Taming of the Shrew. I need to discuss it with my professor too. I need time to prepare!

I’m enjoying my poetry seminar so far. And we’ve only met once! It’s called Poetry International: Migration, Diaspora, and Practices of Translation. I do feel a responsibility as an American of Asian descent to represent my voice properly. Through this class, I will be exposed to different international voices. I’m excited to learn how to tell a story through poetry, seeing as how that’s what short fiction has to do too. Telling a big, huge story in a finite space. We had to write our own version of Nazim Hiket’s Things I Didn’t Know I Loved as an in-class prompt for our first week, and I’m posting it here for posterity, after some slight revision.

I didn’t know I loved shrimp until I ate it at Erika’s house
On what was my first trip home since I had moved to Vegas
What is home because I left it like a thief in the night
The promise of a new beginning in its neon lights.

I never heard jazz music until the summer of ’91
And Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable with Love
came in the mail on cassette tape from Columbia House
Fresh to my eight-year-old ears, memorizing
torch songs like they were oxygen,
turning my blue blood red.
Heeding her advice to Straighten Up and
Fly Right, living a Lush Life in some small
dive, inside Avalon.

I never knew the lengths I would go
to drive anywhere I needed to go
Until I had enough money to visit Disneyland
Alone, single rider, wondering why Splash Mountain
was based on a movie no one can see legally anymore.
Nobody weighing me down like wearing
cement shoes, being pushed off the Santa Monica Pier
Buying shirts, eating turkey legs, drinking
Dole Whips and dreaming of True Love’s Kiss.

I didn’t know I missed the California sky
until I came back to my birthplace and
saw the cloud patterns look so strange to me
Since I was 500 miles away and growing older
amongst the red rocks.

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