You are such a girl
Tonight was my first competitive slam—Young Adult Writers Perform (YAWP!) at Hwa Chong Junior College, and I’m really overwhelmed by getting individual first. I enjoyed the entire thing and all the performances so, so much, and it was just the most enjoyable experience to be in a place with so many poetry lovers (you should’ve seen the open mike round).
To my friends: you guys are so wonderful for coming down. Really. Your screaming was easily the best part of being announced at the end.
Also thanks so, so much to ELDDFS (English LIterature, Debate, Drama and Film Society) for the amazing slam. I’m sorry I’m an awkward dork so I didn’t give you guys the proper thank you, but you all are so great.
Before this becomes an actual blog, here’s the first poem I performed. I also did From the Graph to the Asymptote, a little thing from a while back.
If you are ever ten years old and have a pink pencil case, do not hide it in your desk in shame. If you are ever eleven years old and have a cute skirt you like, wear it everywhere you go. Or if you are ever thirteen and dot your ‘i’s with hearts and sign your name with a flower, do not ever let go of that pen.
You are such a girl. You are such a girl in the way you take pride in having pretty hair, the way you fuss over wrinkled clothes, the way you never hesitate to slap a person in the face when they point out the weakness they see in your biology.
Or if you are ever thirteen and find face cream disgusting, tell your mother you find yourself beautiful anyway. If you are ever eleven and just like shorts, wear it everywhere you go. If you are ever ten years old and like football, accidentally kick the boy who tells you “no girls on the field”.
Go and arm-wrestle with the boy who pulls your ponytail, but when he rubs his wrist in pain, do not take your strength as a symbol for how you count as “one of the guys”. When you feel like taking ballet classes, do not take the pink tutus and the slim slippers as a symbol for the weakness of your sex; you are such a girl.
If you are ever nine years old, and understand the concept of graphs—how the figures fit in to spit out straight lines, but not how they box you in an unattractive body, do not tell yourself that one day, the curves you see on magazine covers will kick in and make you a girl. And when the curves kick in harder than you expected, do not believe that the lines on your stomach, mocking your skin in places you never knew existed—do not tell yourself that you are “too much” to be a girl. You are such a girl.
Because I spent my childhood blacklisting the colour pink, burying the Barbie dolls that I wanted to be, bathing myself in sweat so I would never be told I was “such a girl” when I said I was afraid of the hot sun, bathing myself in cold cream so my mother would never look at my face like she was afraid of the darkness of my atoms.
Because sometimes I still tuck away my fears under smiley faces and lock my anger in a drawer of apology, because if my emotional reaction gives you the key to undress my layers of insecurity to reduce me to “such a girl”, then I wish I’d told you that I am a dog-eared paperback, folded so many times that I can no longer tell where the creases end and the lines begin. There are a dozen notes in the margins trying to tell me how to change my plotline, but I was printed as a draft and the ink stains you see on these pages are where I stumble on my way to the back cover.
And I wish I hadn’t spent my childhood fighting off my girlhood, wish I hadn’t pretended I knew how to be better, spent all that time trying to be a boy. I wish it hadn’t taken me fourteen years to learn that being a girl is not a crime.
Know that you are more than a reflection of your sex, know that the white light that shines down on you does not make you a lab experiment of a child—you are made of seven different colours and so much more, and entropy means that—yes, you are and will always be a mess, but when the pink hits the blue and your mind is a sea of grey, know that all the colours scatter into even more shades, and you will never be shoved into the black or the white, and you are such a girl. You will always be such a girl the way your bedroom wall will always be whatever colour you want it to be.
one of the best poetry slam performances i have had the privilege of watching live. an extremely wonderful and empowering poem on feminism.
Speech to the Young: Speech to the Progress-Toward
say to the down-keepers,
"even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night.”
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.
Live not for battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along.
- Gwendolyn Brooks
The arsonist stood up in court and said
I am not an arsonist. I dreamt
the building was a phoenix
and needed my help. Before sticking me
in a sentence, like a four-syllable word
with only one meaning, consider
what becomes of the ashes: see
how after smearing a palm-full
hair grows on a bald man’s scalp, how
just a sprinkle makes irises sprout through
sidewalk cracks. You call me sick,
but have you ever seen a suicidal
parakeet, a homeless butterfly?
You want to know how you go crazy?
One marble at a time. It’s the law
of your language that dictates mess
is the precursor for messiah. You don’t
understand my logic to the hmph degree.
Your style of math is forty-three floors
beneath me. But you should have seen
the fire, a symphony of mayhem, people
leaping from windows, like lightning
bolts somersaulting out of a terrible cloud.
- Jeffrey McDaniel
imma candy crush your soul
i am stuck on level 17.
the candy crush gods are laughing at my impudence and inability.
i am spending my life waiting for my next life.
my next life comes in 30 minutes.
i have set a timer for then so i know when my life begins and this one ends.
i report the candy crush gods for substance abuse because they are high on sugar. people tend to do stupid things when they are high on caffeine and sugar.
i merely do not want them to do things they will regret.
the candy crush gods are thrown into prison.
no one is happy now.
no one will be happy for the next thirty minutes.
day 7: llama parade
Power to the Tylopoda!
My llama brethren, defend your rights!
Till every hill and glen and desert sand
breathes the form of slavery—
No! We are not your underlings!
Foolish two-legged monsters,
These hooves were made for walking
and that’s just what they’ll do!
Today is the day these hooves
are gonna walk over you!
(Oh fuck is that a saddlebag?)
day 6: goodbye
I forgot to register the warranty for my phone,
and it seems as though Apple
has outsourced to Australia.
You tell me my warranty is still available
I heave a sigh of relief
and hang up
But I forget to get your name
before I say goodbye
and now my warranty is void.
day 5: eyeholes
like autumn reds:
you are an out of body feeling
day 4: aspiration nation
there are days when the hangover
just won’t go away
because we’ve drunk our
and the bartender didn’t care about limits
even after we were carded at the door.
sensation for the station matron
in concordance with legislation
and employee frustration
just hand me an aspirin
if this is how we’re going down.
day 2: lies
there is an irony
scratch on your tongue
it could be ivory but
you are not that precious
yet. swallow down like the
adam’s apple in your
throat isn’t actually
and make reference to
a day where ringed teeth
mellow the storytelling circle.
day 1: anyone lived in a pretty how town
anyone lived in a pretty how town
with ten-gallons packed into a hat.
let’s open a beer bar with swingy doors
and sheriff stars on our tits.
woody being named after woody allen
is more depressing than buzz lightyear’s purple veil.
plastic pistol children
shoot baddies in their plastic hearts.
it’s all fun and gays
till the back drops.