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.
Videos to my performances here and here (thanks to weitian and peihan for filming!)
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.