A Brown/RISD Visual & Literary Arts Magazine Vol. XV Issue II
Diverse Market City Insil Choi, RISD â€˜14 Digital
Letter From the Editor Dear Reader, I am proud to share with you VISIONS’ Spring 2015 issue. Selecting the pieces to publish in this issue was a great challenge, but also a great pleasure–a pleasure I hope you will find in turn. This semester, as in every cycle of publication, we asked ourselves: What does it mean to be Asian in the United States? And how do we best represent that as an Asian and Asian American magazine dedicated to the arts? The answers are multitudinous and ever evolving. At the second annual E(RACE)D But Not Forgotten conference this year, dedicated to unpacking the Asian experience in the U.S., we hosted a poetry workshop where we found our footing on one possible answer: to create literature and art that resists definition by others. We drew inspiration from Junot Diaz: “You guys know about vampires? You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, ‘Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might seem themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.’” My belief is that VISIONS can serve as a kind of re-humanizing mirror. In addition to Diaz, we looked to Cathy Linh Che, who wrote in February, “Who says or has ever said that that Asian & Pacific Islander American story is only immigration lit/family conflict/identity politics? If anyone has ever said that, I’ve certainly never bothered to listen.” This refusal to let others define yourself and your work, to carve your ownership into your art and your identity, is exemplified by each one of the writers and artists in this magazine. Throughout my four years here, I have been continually astounded, enriched, and moved by the work that we’ve reviewed. It has been an honor to lead such a passionate, critical, and hard-working editorial board. Leaving VISIONS is bittersweet. Yet I am confident that in the hands of a such a talented team the magazine will continue to grow and thrive as a vital pulse in our community. Thank you for reading. Sincerely yours,
Anny Li Editor-in-Chief
Editor-in‑Chief Anny Li ‘15 Managing Editor Michelle Pombrol ‘16
Web Staff Sienna Bates ‘16 Bianca Eyales ‘17 Lisa Lee ‘17
Art & Photography Editor Yvonne Fong ‘18
Printer PrintNinja Made in PRC
Literary Editor Betty Heeso Kim ‘15.5
A very special thanks to ...
Associate Literary Editor Lisa Lee ‘17
RISD Outreach Chair Haejin Park, RISD ‘15
Kisa Takesue Undergraduate Finance Board Pan Asian Council Asian American Heritage Series Brown Center For Students of Color JNBC Public Humanities Center Office of Institutional Diversity Department of Comparative Literature Department of Music Department of East Asian Studies Contributors and staff
Publicity Chair Andy Li ‘17
Layout & Design Editor Jason Fujikuni, RISD ‘17 Networking Chair Mia Gold ‘17 Webmaster Miranda Chao ‘18
Freshman Representative Soyoon Kim ‘18 Copy Editing Staff Carol Kim ‘15 Paige Morris ‘16 Hilery Chao ‘18 Alicia Devos ‘18 Atalanta Shi RISD ‘17
email@example.com visions-magazine.org facebook.com/Visions.
On the Cover Mirror Frames Jean Wei, RISD ‘17 Digital
Inside Cover Cakescape, the Cliffs of Santorini Susan Chen ‘15 Oil on Canvas
Mission Statement VISIONS is a publication that highlights and celebrates the diversity of Brown and RISD’s Asian/Asian American community. We are committed to being an open literary and artistic forum for Asians and Asian Americans, as well as other members of the university community, to freely express and address issues relating to both the Asian and Asian American experience. VISIONS further serves as a forum for issues that cannot find a voice in other campus publications. As a collaborative initiative, VISIONS attempts to strengthen and actively engage Brown and RISD’s vibrant community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as the larger Providence community and beyond. Disclaimer The opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of VISIONS’s sponsors.
Visual Art 5 Nostalgia Jenice Kim 7 What the Pacific and the Sahara Have in Common Yeon Soo Joo
35 Rush Hour Yeon Soo Joo
22 条 (Yītiáo) potato Mary Nguyen
24 Back Ellia Higuchi
Panic! & Flowerpot Cloe Lee 42 Self Portrait Yuna Cho
27 Missed Call Mae Verano
9 Untitled Zashary Caro
43 I Surrender Abigail Griswold
33 The Moon Emily Sun
11 Impurity Selene Means
45 Temptation Jimmy Xia
14 晚饭 (Wan Fan) Cynthia Wang
47 Daydream (Marimo) Cynthia Wang
36 there are bodies under our feet and they will always outnumber the ones that step amongst the graves Kristine Mar
15 One Second on the Ground Xin Liu 20–21 Photos from Sri Lanka Claudia Ng 23 Raku Vessel Brandon Kento Saisho 25 Yonsei Jason Fujikuni 30–32 Record Recreate Jacqueline Jing Lin
37 みだれ髪 Tangled Hair Simone Kurial
6 Anatomy Ananya Shah
39 Chickens Bailey Hu
8 Number 8 Katherine Chin
41 what i know now Haley Lee
10 Swollen Mirror Andy Li
44 Soft is the pillow and warm are the blankets Tiffany Chang
12 Snow Like White Mold Anna Poon 17 Notes from Neopia Jacqueline Gu
Nostalgia Jenice Kim, RISD â€˜17 | Acrylic & Graphite
people with pink eyes green eyes and blue look at the wise Aravalli Hills. they floated to us across seas but the nomads arrived in groups. their fragments live on as fluids whisk.
boys in blue pajamas flapping at the ankle wrap spinning tops in stretched cotton.
the tops look translucent and the boys squeal. childhood is accommodating.
the cricket ball hits the branch where the cuckoo was dozing. we are told to be careful. the cuckoos coos at us my brother imitates it. aghast, it flies away. i come to the conclusion that this was an example of a fragment in action.
girls in starched frocks bathe their Barbies with Tide. the clock churns around till
it is 5 and we are told off. childhood is forgiving.
the babies of the family are always babies. the nomads needed companionship while airing out their souls.
Ananya Shah â€˜17 likes colored glass, card games, and molting peacocks.
What the Pacific and the Sahara Have in Common Yeon Soo Joo, RISD â€˜17 | Furniture
Everything had become swirls of white, exhaled allergens seeking each other, wading through red lollipops. No one knew how many bites it would take. But windows make everything into pictures, the kosmos of iron filings into Lego taxis, turbulence into the physical vibrations of jazz. I was sitting in a double decker, perhaps a premeditated pattern myself, lurching into the spaces between time, the syncopation of a new anthem. It was all in tongues I couldn’t fold myself into; they twisted me into the noble savage (for what is the self without language?). I had no memory, fabula and syuzhet jumbled into one incomprehensible mess, no past and no home. The raindrops pollocked onto the glass canvas – they absorbed me, Number 8, defined by particles at nine point eight meters per second squared.
Katherine Chin ‘18 has a shoe size of five but masquerades as a six.
Untitled Zashary Caro, RISD â€˜17 | Painting
I look at his face in this mirror, flesh a rubber, the cobble clay of pale pink. It’s like the freckles are the uncemented burden. His nose is unfortunate, an added appendage stuck on like the crosshatching watermark onto red earth’s thunders. But really, on top of everything is a cellophane gaze, a henlike quality of oil, bemirthed like deliciousness, a soft palette. His face is like the familiar smell of old coffee on your tongue. He has that look, you know deeply, that kind of face that looks different in every picture. I stare at his Instagram every day. It’s a little mild to do so, and a little cursory, but always like grating the cheese of my spirits, like rice noodles. My face is so hot it becomes transparent, laser beams protracting the surface of my computer screen, and every Gram is a real, different revision of his face. When I stare long enough, I see the tick marks and numbers of a clock, I see the repeating pox of the crickets, a waxed apple translucent, made of plastic like the bouncy balls of childhood and with the rivets of light in those Skechers shoes you made your parents buy… He is the icon of the manboy. He is the Virgin Frank. But you know that his sexcapades are Real, like the lip gloss of the story. So you recount the days when you saw him sitting there on his bed, his face constantly shifting along the salmontone light, the air fraught with his self-proclaimed French motel look. The whole girth of the room was the time when your face was so nailed into itself with saran wrap that it burst from its seams, and the polymers flowed into the depths of his teeth. You revisit all of these times, no matter how faint they seem. You caress your own face yummy, and you count the freckles on his face in your memory. You want to strangle his flesh into a hug, to kink his hair into bonedust—but you can’t. The liquid of your computer screen will never give you that.
Andy Li ‘17 loves to eat donuts and chow mein, but not simultaneously.
Impurity Selene Means, RISD â€˜17 | Film
Snow Like White Mold
A year later, and I have been thinking about snow. I have been watching the white banks on both sides of the tar road each time I walk home, under a flickering wash of cold light. I have been thinking about snow for many weeks–about other cold nights, and telephone calls— about as many weeks as it hasn’t been thinking about us. And I have been wondering what the white banks whisper to each other in drifts like sand over the frozen dunes of black asphalt. Her voice–not a whisper–saying that nobody has to worry, but she is going home because her father is sick. (But you can reach me at this number. Dial one. Dial this eleven-digit international telephone service. Dial the three-number extension. This eight-number string, your grandmother’s house. But I won’t be able to call you. The service only works one-way.) I have been thinking about a white dusting of hair on the head. I have been thinking about lungs, tarred like black asphalt, from a lifetime of soft confidences smoked over so many cigarettes. I have been thinking about how today, the snowfall is different–soft as white fluff, and downy—the underside of a swan wing. Under my feet it’s nearly fuzzy, like a growth atop other drifts and banks and earlier iterations, other attempts to bury. Snow, growing like white mold. *** At first it was easy not to worry. Because I’m good at feeling nothing in the face of a crisis. Because I react slowly. Because there was plenty to do. But slowly, obliquely, on my walks in between places, I remember her, slipping out of a party. Him, his best friend in an accident. So on and other statistics. On a cold night that did not snow, I made the call. I planned it very carefully. ***
I take the city by side streets and wintry night. Try to go on a walk between places. I write the number on a scrap of paper. Tell my friends I’m going to the library. Veer away from the laughing girls. I can’t bear for them to hear the stumble in my speech because already I suspect it won’t be my mother who picks up. “ 喂？” my grandmother answers. “Ai, nihao. Wo ma zai ma?” (Oh, hello. Is my mom there?) “老爷住院了。他们都去医院.” Lao ye zhu yuan le. Lao ye. Grandfather. Zhu yuan le. I shatter the words into their component parts, but I can’t understand. Like snow in its slow hurtle toward earth, I don’t know what I’m falling toward. “Oh.” But it isn’t snowing, and I realize I’m having one of those moments where the mind is so afraid of understanding something that it actively fails to understand anything at all. “他们都在医院。你妈也去了。” (“They all went…. Your mom went too.”) “Na ni you mei you ren pei ni? Ni hai hao ma?” (But do you have anyone by you? Are you okay?) Like snow, I hurtle. I scramble for purchase. “他们都去医院了。我会告诉你妈你有打电话了。” (“They all went....I’ll tell your mother you called.”) (Except she won’t be able to call me back. The service only works one-way.) Then all at once, by the time it is too late for either comfort or mourning, I finally understand what I had kept making my grandmother repeat, the words she kept repeating even after I didn’t want to understand anymore, the words which by the time I finally understand them she is already hanging up and it’s too late. I have been thinking about snow, and how it’s lethal because it only looks slow.
Anna Poon ‘15 can find be found in the place at which the clouds collude.
晚饭 (Wan Fan) Cynthia Wang, RISD ‘16 | Oil on Canvas
Visiting the Mushroom God Veronica Ni ‘16 Digital
One Second on the Ground “As a piece of technology, the clock is a machine that produces uniform seconds, minutes, and hours on an assembly-line pattern. Processed in this uniform way, time is separated from the rhythms of human experience. The mechanical clock, in short, helps to create the image of a numerically quantified and mechanically powered universe. It was in the world of the medieval monasteries, with their need for a rule and for synchronized order to guide communal life, that the clock got started on its modern developments. ” —Understanding Media: The Extension of Man, Marshall McLuhan, Clocks: the Scent of Time
Time might be a grid. The global time zone agreement divides time into 24 pieces, geographically. It connects the virtual concept to a tangible mapping system. How great is the distance on the land where one second travels? In Providence, it is 345.6m. To experience a spatial second, I constructed a time tank – a device filled with sand one carries on her back for experiencing time as a geographical and gravitic concept. Strapped to my back, I walked 345.6m from west to east in Providence and as the sand ran out, my body experienced the passage of a second.
One Second on the Ground Xin Liu, RISD MFA | Interactive Engineered Design
Notes from Neopia
1. I made a Neopets account when I was six years old. (June 22, 2002.) Like many other things—candy, notebooks, an email account—I was inspired to demand my own after seeing my brother obtain one before me. A pioneer of our times, that boy. He once convinced our parents to let him (and, by extension, me) stay at Costco two hours longer than necessary for the sole purpose of circling the warehouse while eating samples. My mother is and has always been firmly Anti-Game, and at that point she monitored our internet usage like a prison warden, but even she caved at the Neopets phenomenon. I’m still not really sure why. All I know is that, at one point, I caught her playing Destruct-OMatch on her desktop. It was like watching a dog walking on its hind legs, or talking. 2. My first Neopet was a blue Shoyru named Jackruy. I adopted other pets too—had four at one point, but gave one up to the adoption hound because I felt stretched too thin. Jackruy, though, was always my favorite. And that was when the suspicion that I’d always shunted away to the unconscious section of my brain because it seemed too ludicrous to be true, was confirmed: if I could have favorites among my Neopets, my parents surely could too. 3. I recently logged back in. Jackruy; species: Shoyru; mood: delighted!; age: 4,465 days; hunger: dying. 4. There were “Neopets-famous” users who dominated the Battledome, whose profiles displayed hours and hours dedicated to constructing their little online universe, to carving out a corner of the website and marking it as their own. Two of them linked their profiles to each other. They were a couple that had been together for years, apparently, though I’m not sure whether or not they met on the site, whether they started dating before or after Neopets. The order of events was unclear. I used to go to their profiles and read through the meticulous details for hours, wondering who they were. “xxshadowstar is the love of my life,” and “hopewithoutfeathers is the love of my life,” printed in their “About Me”s, two sides of a coin, mutual recursion. I thought it was so strange that there were Real Adults on this website, adults who not only immersed themselves in the game universe but also somehow found love. “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias had been programmed to auto-play at the bottom of one of their pages. I must have listened to it dozens of times in the time I spent snooping on their profiles. I can be your hero, baby, Enrique crooned, the line looping through my head again and again.
The best equipment was naturally the most expensive, the price tags of the select esteemed weapons and potions rising into the millions. I always wondered how the leading players in the Battlefield could afford those things—how many hours do you have to play games to reach 400 million Neopoints? (Which was the price of Tazzalor’s Cutlass, in case you were wondering.) You could earn a maximum of 1,000 Neopoints per game, but you would have to be very skilled to get that many—most games earned an average or five or six hundred, and each game probably took about five minutes. So that comes out to roughly 67,000 hours or 2,800 days spent on games alone, only to blow it all on one dinkylooking sword. Me, I could never do that. Sure, I could sit still long enough to spend eight or ten straight hours playing mindless games, but it was never a good feeling—less about patience and persistence, more about the computer’s LED screen boring into my eyeballs, keeping me trapped within its power. And at the end of the day, I would always have a little existential crisis, even at age nine: What am I doing? Why did I just spend the entire day earning Neopoints I’m never going to spend? What is the point of all of this? By the next day I would have forgotten, of course, and happily logged back in. 7. When I was eight or nine the game developers (our heroes, our gods) rolled out a new feature—Petpets. Pets for our Neopets. I always imagined them to be about the same size as a softball. They were pretty cute, and I bought one for each of my pets at the time. You want to keep your pets happy, right? But it bit me in the ass when Jackruy had an allergic reaction to the Petpet I gave her, developing an infection, and I had to go shell out my hard-earned cash for the antibiotics. And when I’d almost reached the end of my Neopets-playing days, they came out with another feature: Petpetpets. I’d learned my lesson by then. 8. How does the Neopets economy work, you wonder? In a nutshell: it doesn’t. The most popular ways through which you can earn Neopoints—playing games, using the stock market, going on quests—don’t actually exchange currency cyclically in the way economies rely on. As more people joined the game, more people were making money out of thin air, and the entire Neo-verse accidentally became an allegory for post–World War II Germany. (I recently saw a plain loaf of bread on sale for 3 million Neopoints; ten years ago it would have been three hundred.)
5. The Battledome was a virtual arena that pitted two players against one another, each choosing a pet to fight for them. I always chose Jackruy—out of all my pets she was the strongest, the fastest, equipped with the best defense and weaponry. (I often wondered how my other pets felt about this. Neopets really did teach me a thing or two about parenting.)
9. Most people I knew who played the game spent their Neopoints freely. I had a friend in ninth grade who told me, waxing nostalgic, that she had never had a balance above 20,000 Neopoints, because every time she’d earned enough she would buy a new round of gourmet food for her pets—which was just about the most objectively hare-brained way you could spend your cash. Feeding your pet a Moldy Tomato Sandwich versus a Cranberry-Orange Baked Ham made no difference in their health, and you didn’t even need to feed them to keep them alive. Their hunger status could stay starving indefinitely, as Jackruy’s has for the last seven or so years. 10. I used to have this fantasy: summer mornings, sunlight streaming lazily through the windows, our mother trilling us awake. Cinnamon-French-toast-ready-on-the-tabledear, or I-made-omelettes-I-know-they’re-your-favorite! She would be wearing a redcheckered apron over a full skirt, ready to smile her way through a day of child-rearing. (Me, the child she was presumably rearing.) After breakfast, perhaps piano or art classes; then, after lunch, playing outside with the neighborhood kids—what else? Afternoon around five p.m., swimming in the local pool, sun in my face and a breeze in my hair. In this dream, I could open my eyes underwater without the sting of chlorine. This was all a horking pile of bullshit, of course. Albert and I had none of these things. What we did have was NeoQuest, a role-playing adventure game where you play a Lupe transported back to ancient Neopia, fighting monsters and collecting objects. We used to spend hours inside every day, wandering around the game-world, hunched over our shared desktop computer. This was how we passed our summers, our aimless sun-drenched days, our fleeting celebrations of freedom.
If Neopoints could be converted to dollars, Jacqueline Gu ‘17’s net worth would be approximately 0.0076% of Bill Gates’.
Sri Lanka: Girls Claudia Ng â€˜18 | Photography
Sri Lanka: Boys Claudia Ng â€˜18 | Photography
条 (Yītiáo) potato
que la pena mẹ có 19 năm yo 是 (shì) your child 6 months I haven’t gone home I miss you//我很想你 (wǒ hěn xiǎng nǐ) a veces hay una pena en mi corazón 我想 (wǒ xiǎng) to hear your laugh again yo solo quiero 让妈妈高兴 (ràng māmā gāoxìng) I love you, mẹ khi mẹ đã sinh ra con 19 năm con là con cuo mẹ 6 thang con chưa về con nhớ mẹ có lúc tim cười con hurts có lúc con muốn nghe tiếng cười mẹ laugh con chỉ really muốn mẹ happy I love you, mẹ
Mary Nguyen ‘17 finds culinary perfection in the form of rice.
Raku Vessel Brandon Saisho RISD â€˜15 | Thrown Stoneware
So we’ll go back. We’ll go back to Japan and the shiny rice fields and eat mountain potatoes and let their slime hang off of our lips like words we didn’t mean to say but did. We’ll go back, without my mom, because “I’ve lived in Japan for ten years and I don’t want to go back,” and because it’s not her family nor her home my mom is like a bird—even though her Chinese sign is a tiger and she often growls like one, my mom is a bird who hatched in Jerusalem and never went back. She flew to Japan and met my dad at Tsukuba and built her nest for ten years and then got restless— and she won’t be going back. So, sans mom we’ll go back—to the sentences whose meaning I will only understand a fraction of and a crowd who will only be a fraction as dark as my skin because the women shield their skin from the rays of the rising sun. We’ll go back—my head will ache remembering the dancing characters on the subway signs signs I studied in Saturday school, and I’ll go back like I always do and see as I always see that everything is different and yet exactly the same—to be cliché—a new prime minister who tries to rewrite history next to a rock in my dad’s village that shows an image of a warrior from the Edo era. Side by side, they look me in the eye, the smooth, snaking shinkansen and the age-old, dilapidated houses of Yamanouchi-machi; my cousin’s new short haircut next to the picture of my dead grandmother in a kimono; KFC and a hot bowl of oden—they stand next to each other, and I think it’s funny how the latter usually stays and the former usually goes. I’ll go back to somewhere I’ve never been before (Kyoto) and feel in my head that I’ve been there before because my father believes it is possible (reincarnation) and the smell of cherry blossoms will be made up in my mind (sweet) and the sakura (cherry blossoms) informed in my mind by those my half-Japanese boyfriend will have planted in D.C. And I’ll go back and shed the skin of guilt I’d worn for the past six years for not having been back, for forgetting (my past life), for looking my grandpa in his glasses and not understanding what he says—and yet it might not be my fault (his deafness). The roots might not be real—I may have planted them myself (in my past life) and yet—and yet something smells similar when I step into the house in Nagano and smell the smell of rice pressed into paper, a house that never moved—a house with a Western toilet and a guest room for me to sleep on the futon (FOO-tone) a house that has been with my family (my family?) forever, and I’ll think, now I’m back, I’ve gone back to somewhere my soul remembers, so yes, yes, soon I think we ought to go back. Ellia Higuchi ‘15 likes to make paper cranes out of everything.
Yonsei (Fourth Generation) Jason Fujikuni, RISD â€˜17 | Reduction Relief Prints
Mae Verano Imaginary Voicemails I’m Too Embarrassed To Leave For My Dad ONE if i stand here long enough, maybe dust will settle in lungs and i can call this place my home but gusts of wind batter my face and uproot me from my comfort so i guess this isn’t where i’m meant to be the sound of the dial tone is a deafening screech a reminder of my decision to leave i refuse to listen to my own guilt so i always stop the siren short i do not need a warning signal for my heartbreak each morning TWO today we dissected squids in my biology lab the smell of nostalgia and oriental markets filled the air as my hands took the form of yours and i found myself in our kitchen teetering on the edge of my seat as i watch the masterpiece unfold before me the fish you gutted became filleted artwork you played lullabies of knives scraping against scales in hopes of catching my interest in hopes of me taking the knife myself but cutting open dead fish will always be just that taking something apart that is already lost THREE i’m sorry i missed your call but it seems you have the wrong number you called for a name i haven’t heard in months no one has called me Richelle since i’ve been here i wonder do you call out her name in your sleep haunted by a ghost that no longer exists, do you wish she was still with you? at night, i wake up paralyzed i find her transparent body weighing on my chest,
FOUR today was the first day of spring dad my jail cell room was interrupted by a lustful sunrise and i was awoken by endless kisses of light for the past six months i have taken artificial vitamin D embraces hoping to find a relationship concentrated within a pill but i don’t think love works that way i was wearing velvet tights that night his smile a lustful sunrise and i was awoken by endless kisses of light i’ve accepted the fact that seasons come and go if falling in love is like dry swallowing a pill i’m okay with having a one day dose you would have liked him if you met him and i promise, i’m smart enough now to know love doesn’t need to be an every day thing FIVE i woke up with bruises on my temples i don’t remember leaving in your message you asked me if i’ve been having any episodes lately if i’ve been binge watching the movie Mental Illness on Netflix this month for it seems that every time you call i’m sitting somewhere scenic trying to make my sadness beautiful something consumable and commodified letting my phone buzz until it fades into a soundtrack song. as i sit here filming my own indie story you are back in california sneaking into theaters during matinee and spending entire sundays movie hopping just to see what i’m going through i’m sorry but my script is full of whispers and silent tears there is no synopsis to help you understand
keeping me still but i lie there awake, comfortable in my terror her fearful presence, a direct line to the sound of your voice a voicemail I’m too embarrassed to listen to
my belly protrudes from my body as if it’s trying to escape my gut desperately looking for a taste of homemade i am tired of brown rice pilaf at the ratty i called mom today and she said you’ve stopped eating said you’ve gotten into the whole smoothie craze you love the idea of turning a multiplicity of ingredients into a single, easy to digest drink in the background i hear you exclaim “You can’t even taste all the kale i put!” when did you forget that vegetables are also called gulay and that American does not equate to Healthy longanisa and garlic fried rice is as bad as bacon and kale smoothies are as great as sweet and sour tamarind soup please don’t let inang’s recipies die on the papers you stash away between the cans of sardinas and corned beef because if i am your daughter your belly too will always protrude from your body always desperately looking for a taste of home
SEVEN you didn’t call me this time just letters lost in the phone i constantly lose your voice has transformed into a blue dialogue bubble our embraces have mutilated themselves into emojis and there are days when i don’t even respond your messages have been hacked into “love you” and “call me back when you can” maybe it was a good thing i left i was the one who let you lose your accent colonized your voice with football and apple pie i was an accomplice to your demise i’m sorry that i let them do this to you but please give me time they taught you to leave your ilocano in the Philippines to abandon your concrete home in the barrio but now, your dialect flickers in the back of my throat i promise, when i come back to California i will be ready to relearn our past lives together when i come back home we won’t have to leave voicemails any more
Mae Verano ‘16 takes pictures not with a camera but with her phone.
Record Recreate Jacqueline Jing Lin, RISD â€˜15 | Film & Animation
Record Recreate continued These videos and animations were created and inspired by intimate interviews I conducted with some friends and family talking about their anxieties that are a part of who they are. The voices heard in the video are the actual recordings of our conversations through my phone or through my computer on Skype. I then asked actresses to enact these scenes to represent the interviews, anonymizing the subjects and in hopes to reach and connect to many female Asians who feel similarly.
Jacqueline Jing Lin, RISD â€˜15 | Film & Animation
Emily Sun An autumn moon toasted orange and swollen fat with juice. The sky around it indigo, a silent indigo that treads as softly as we do around the low-rent, high-rise tenements where my grandparents live. A blank space of someone, mother, father, relative-I-don’tremember, tells me that a woman lives with her rabbit on the moon. Chang E, this woman is called. Swanlike. One day, an archer shot nine of ten roasting suns, saving the earth. The gods rewarded him with a pill of immortality, or, depending on who you ask, an above-average vitamin. Following an arc of decline worthy of Shakespeare, the archer grew rich on Earth, and money turned him greedy. Chang E, his beautiful wife, discovers the pill in a box. She takes it, out of foolish curiosity or an act of purpose, of martyrdom to save the kingdom from tyranny. She finds herself floating to the moon. She befriends a jade rabbit there. She is the god of sacrifice. Or loneliness. Or just a foolish girl. On Earth, people grab whoever’s closest by and celebrate. They do it again and call it a festival, name it after the moon. They add food, folding salted yolks into beans and sugar. Sometimes relatives take the long road home, doing what Chang E could not: return. July 16, 1969. Morning, a special kind. When this morning rises, trees steal fire from the gods. Apollo 11 jettisons into orbit right around when people must be blow-drying their hair, scanning the morning grocery pamphlet for coupons. Except they are not. They are watching colors wade through grainy screens. A billion watching eyes. The shuttle lands in a lunar mare, a dark, basaltic lowland formed by ancient volcanic eruptions, mistook by early astronomers to be seas. Others see the eyes of a man living there alone. Still others trace the dust-chalk outline of a jade rabbit. According to my college roommate, sometimes the volcanic lava heats up the rock and it flows like water. These are called sinuous rills. Like waves on the ocean, or the silk train of a dress. An eyelash moon, bleached white like once blemished skin. The sky, royal blue at the center, fades into pale reams of light. I am biking as I usually do, and telephone wires iceskate across the moon and its celestial kingdom. There is a netted footbridge that I like to stop at. But I don’t look at the moon. I look at the cars. Down below, like watercolors, the road floods with light. From the moon, Neil Armstrong can see a small, blue earth, dressed in green layers and nebulous clouds. Luminous. There’s Greenland, all white with ice. There’s Africa, where the sun glints off a lake. Lake Chad, maybe. From out here, the earth looks small and weak. Calling for shelter, like the robin’s eggs I once unburied in the backyard. Or put another way: if the planets were to wage war, the earth would surely lose.
Meanwhile, Mao is painting China red. People can taste blood in their soup and seal their lips with rationed salt. In the city, a man jumps from the windowsill. He wanted to ascend to the moon, but ends up with only a broken leg. In the countryside, my father watches the moon from a stump, gnaws on a carrot. A poem from Mao, to his lost wife: The lonely moon goddess shakes out her wide sleeves in the vast infinite emptiness she dances for the faithful souls. My roommate, to no one in particular: The moon is moving so fast, and the only thing connecting us is gravity We are not even more important than the moon We’re going so fast, we’re going so fucking fast In the rest of Mao’s poem, Wu Gang, a Sisysphean wood chopper, hacks at a cassia tree whose bark continually bites back. A tiger is caught on Earth, tears fly like heavy rain. His wife is still gone. Wu Gang is still chopping. As Apollo floats in space, the astronauts inside are not alone. Voices from earth crackle through the radio, a lifeline of sound, pulling them in. Some sound garbles, lost to the static void, its army of flotsam. Yet mission control sends the morning news through: houston:
Roger. Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, there’s one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-o has been living there for 400 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported. michael collins:
Okay. We’ll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.
An afternoon moon, eloping like a runaway bride across the pale blue. We are seven, maybe nine, I can’t remember. We catch dandelion fever and dream up secret gardens behind rusted gates. We take field trips to NCAR and learn about moondust and craters. Back in a classroom soaked with August heat, they tell us about the flag the astronauts left on the moon, stiff and wired and immobile. “This is how you make history,” they say, gesturing grandly. “This is how you return home.” The words taste good at first: history, time. We swallow them like cures. Then stare out the window, wishing to float somewhere else.
You will often find Emily Sun ‘18 falling asleep at inopportune moments, laughing a lot, or scribbling notes on her hands.
On the moon, Armstrong kicks up dust with his boot. There is no atmosphere (and my roommate affirms this) so the rocks rise up in a ring, the shape of a rose-petal. Returning to the machine, he notices it is so thin, this twiggy contraption of gold foil that a toddler could stick a finger through. Armstrong shuts the engine off, and the exhaust particles race down the horizon.
Rush Hour Yeon Soo Joo, RISD ‘17 | Charcoal
Kristine Mar “I want to be cremated,” I tell my mother. She recoils. “Don’t talk about those kinds of things.” My brother and I loiter around the entrance of the cemetery as our parents are buying flowers and paper money and incense from the vendor outside. The woman at the stand is wearing a straw sunhat, but her skin is browned and tough like canvas pulled unevenly over her bones, so maybe the hat does not work as well as she had hoped. A photograph of my grandmother, younger than when she died, but old enough that I still recognize her, is set into a small rectangle on the left side of her grave. We glance at, but don’t acknowledge, the right half. It is meant for my grandfather. He points to the names engraved on the back of the tombstone. There you are, he says. There I am, but it is not the same as the name on my passport. We take turns. My uncle, silent as always, lights four or five sticks of incense. I clasp them in my palms and bow slowly at the waist, once, twice, three times. They are sparking at the tips. I try not to get the ash in my eyes. We sprinkle pale white petals over the granite and, for once, I don’t protest when the adults want to take pictures. In them, I am smiling, but my mouth is closed and I don’t know exactly which way to look. After, we burn sheaves of paper billions in a metal tub, watching the zeros consumed by flickers of bright orange flame. They are melting like ice into pools of charcoal dust. The stacks we started out with shrivel into nothing, curl up into themselves, vanish into more than what they’re worth. I can’t help but get the smoke in my eyes.
Kristine Mar ’18 always forgets how to use a can opener.
there are bodies under our feet and they will always outnumber the ones that step amongst their graves
Three Poems from:「みだれ髪」Tangled Hair By 与謝野 晶子 Yosano Akiko Translated by Simone Kurial chibusa osae shinpi no tobari sotokerinu kokonaru hana no benizo koki
乳ぶさおさえ 神秘のとばり そとけりぬ ここなる花の 紅ぞ濃き Seizing these breasts A kick reveals that which lies Behind the sheets of mystery; The flower residing there Is of the deepest crimson red
yawahada no atsuki chishio ni furemomide sabishikarazuya michiwo toku kimi
柔肌の 熱き血潮に 触れもみで 寂しからずや 道を説く君 The heat of this soft flesh The swell of this blood-tide Still waiting for your touch; Are you so without loneliness, You who expounds the way?
haru mijikashi nani ni fumetsu no inochi zoto chikara aru chi wo te ni sagurasenu
春短し 何に不滅の 命ぞと ちからある乳を 手に探らせぬ Spring is short; Do you know but one thing Possessing of eternal life? I whisper, and will his hands To my caress my powerful breasts
Translator’s Note: Yosano Akiko (1878–1942) was one of the first modern Japanese feminists. In a society where women are historically expected to play submissive roles both socially and sexually, Akiko repurposes female sexual agency, transforming a Japanese woman’s role in literature and society to one of leadership and power. The ripples of her radicalism now serve as cornerstones of contemporary female representation in Japanese media. Akiko’s linguistic approach, as well as her subject matter, is incredibly novel. Her first published work, Midaregami (1901), laid the foundation for a fundamental shift in gender-associated thinking in Japan. Passive became assertive; sexually submissive became sexually dominant; and most importantly, the very concept of the “Japanese woman” was altered forever through Akiko’s elegant and decisive brushstrokes. Previous English translations of Akiko’s work tend to exhibit docile, innocent, and subtle imagery and syntax, underscoring the image of the submissive Japanese woman often held in foreign literary circles. In these translations, rather than cast Japanese into an English mold, I aim instead to craft the English language to serve Akiko’s original purpose: that is, to subvert the ambiguity and indirectness inherent in her native tongue, and reappropriate her language for a contemporary purpose. There are three segments for each poem: Rōmaji (the way the Japanese sounds using roman characters), Hiragana (original Japanese script), and my translation.
Simone Kurial ‘15 took the road less traveled by and now she’s lost.
Panic! & Flowerpot Cloe Lee, RISD â€˜17 | Watercolor & Marker
Translated by Bailey Hu Translator’s Note: Chickens (Ji, also slang for a female sex worker) is a piece by Dorothy Tse, a contemporary Hong Kong writer. It is one of a collection of (very) short stories, written in her characteristically surrealist style. What’s striking about her writing, I find, is its deceptively natural flow. Surrealism is hardly new, but Tse makes it feel fresh with simple language and striking imagery. For those who are interested in reading more of her work in translation, an anthology of her work entitled Snow and Shadow was published last year. It’s a gripping read. Because of those huge cages on the streets, they predicted that the chickens shipped into the city in February would be as stout as cows. I ran out onto the street with them, but the grain we’d prepared turned out to have no use. The bright and garish chickens we had expected weren’t there. Instead the cages were crowded with mother-like figures, women with plentifully overflowing breasts. Inside the bamboo cages they showed expressions of indignation, but what came spewing out of their mouths was a strange language as difficult to understand as chickens squawking. Squatting on the sidewalk, we discovered that the colors on their faces had melted off, revealing weirdly pale faces and a series of mouths daubed in a blood-red color. Perhaps they had already eaten up all of the chickens. We were discussing this, but the bunch of policemen jailors drove us to the other side of the street. They used black belts to cordon off the part of the road where the group of giant chicken cages was. Then they wrapped themselves up tightly in their overcoats and, grumbling, stood there the whole day. In this fashion, the street grew cold. “Now what, the prison won’t have any more extra spaces.” Until we left, there was still nobody among us who knew why those women had been shut up in cages. “They were illegally shipped into the city to be substitutes for our mothers; anyone with money could buy them,” a boy wearing a headscarf, sitting on the railing, said. He let us each take a drag on the cigarette stolen from his parents’ shop, even gave us a minute to peek at the photo he kept hidden on his person. (At that time we all, including him, still didn’t know that that beautiful woman with her breasts showing was actually the mother currently suckling him.) And so, there were none among us who didn’t believe him. In the following days, we decided never to return to our tedious school and instead gathered up all the things from home that we could sell and took them out onto the street. The street grew increasingly cold. For most of the time, I hugged the neck of a similarly squatting boy from behind, resting my left cheek against the shaved-smooth back of his head and fantasizing about the brightly plumaged chickens that had not yet been shipped into the city—agitatedly flapping their wings, flying over the tops of our heads. But when I opened my eyes I still saw the women across the street packed tightly in their cages, chilled to the point of immobility, silent, as if they were just another
It wasn’t long before we realized that the gradually increasing number of passers-by didn’t even spare a glance for our goods. They only milled around on the street, agitated and restlessly staring at the women in cages. When exactly did that crowd of people materialize? We ran onto the pedestrian bridge that stretched across two roads and for the first time realized that the men of our city were as numerous as rats and the line of people extended down the long, long street all the way out to the edge of the sea— the place where the mothers had been left abandoned. The only people remaining in our city were those men. We were struck by the sorrowful realization that, by comparison, the number of caged women was pitifully small, and each of them was indistinguishable from the rest. At some point unknown to us, the boy with a headscarf left. Even the bunch wearing gleaming stainless steel school badges like mine, the handkerchiefs, slippers, and candles they’d brought…had all disappeared without a trace. There was no room left for us on the path either, with people swarming all around the policemen and cages. We could only crawl out between their legs to escape. Returning home, I found the rug on the living room floor soaking wet. My little sister was sitting in our huge plastic bathtub, her whole body almost submerged in steaming hot water with only her small, pitiful head peeking out. “Tonight there’ll be nothing to eat. Father took away all of our pocket money.” Strangely, I didn’t feel hungry. I only spread my hands out in a deliberate manner and exaggerated to her: “You didn’t get to see, but the women all had breasts as huge as rubber balls.” Yet my little sister didn’t seem interested at all. She was only absorbed in playing with the towel floating on top of the water—blowing air inside until it rose up into a spherical shape then pinching it flat again. “It’s hard to say if one day I won’t be the same as them, getting shipped out to another city and sold like mother-substitute products.” “Then, when the time came, you’d know for sure the highest price at which I could be sold.” My little sister gave a self-satisfied smile, her bony little bamboo-like body suddenly poking out of the water. A mysterious surge of wrath made me push her back down into the water. The bathtub tipped over, hot water and foam gushing out everywhere. My sister’s cries and struggling were completely meaningless. She should have understood that Father and all the other men had probably already cleaned out the cages on the street. If we climbed back onto the bridge now, we’d find the street a picture of desolation, like a dried-up, empty riverbed stretching out into the dark night.
Bailey Hu ‘15 is allergic to writing theses.
part of the frigid city landscape. Every once in a while the police forcefully tugged their heads out and stuffed them into their overcoats. Only then could we hear small chirping sounds coming from within the coats. The boy with a headscarf would assume a disdainful look at these times. He’d puff away at his cigarette by himself, no longer sharing.
what i know now
rewind: a game of freeze tag
in the morning. fingertips searching for pulse points in the leftover light, and
every time the mirror.
every time the bruised knees,
winedark and heavy.
I tried to stand and my ribs re
how you made me into a suitcase
so you could unzip me.
blackberry lips. blood on the floor
now, and every time the door.
every time the stillness, through
draw a body in the sand.
tell it how to breathe.
(shhh, i’m practicing, don’t remind me)
Haley Lee ‘18 enjoys consecutive sunny days and cookie dough.
Self Portrait Yuna Cho, RISD ‘15 | Caran D’ache Crayons & Acrylic
I Surrender Abigail Griswold, RISD â€˜17 | Ceramics
Soft is the pillow and warm are the blankets
Soft is the pillow and warm are the blankets and it feels like mid-August again. I woke up with my eyes glued shut by the mascara I wore to bed. Sunday is the day of rest, the day of worship, and I know that I shouldn’t be here. I should be in church but the damned be damned for sleeping in when it’s practically Alaska outside. All the while he sleeps on. His face is calm. His lips are plush and blushing red cushions where mine find rest and I want to kiss them this way forever and brush the insides of my wrists on them and oh! He wakes at last. His lashes prickle my fingers, tickle my cheeks and my chest and my stomach as he paints my skin pink with open-mouthed kisses and all I can gasp is “Don’t leave a mark,” to which he retorts “Who the fuck cares? Scarf it tomorrow,” and that is the end of that argument. He has won again because Mama bought me a new scarf for Christmas anyway, red and woolen and folded on my dresser the same way Mama folded Daddy’s handkerchiefs before he left town “for good.”. This is not love because I learned in poetry class that love is an abstraction, and this is real (or at least I think it is). Mama always said I should sleep only in the bed of a boy I love but Mama’s in church right now and this bed is summer in winter so I’ll stay until autumn sneaks between our blankets and reminds me that Mama says things for a reason and God is a jealous lord.
Tiffany Chang ‘16 wonders what becomes of curious minds.
Temptation (excerpted) Jimmy Xia â€˜17 | Graphic Novel
The Family Anny Li ’15 catches the falling ceiling in fistfuls. Mia Gold ’17 color codes life. Andy Li ’17 likes to wear his blankets. Michelle Pombrol ’16 is planting seeds in the dirt under her fingernails. Betty Heeso Kim ’15.5 is waiting for her shipment of red lipstick and French baguettes. Haejin Park, RISD ’15 cannot function without eating eggs. Soyoon Kim ’18 enjoys wading in waters of her mental land(e)scapes. Yvonne Fong ’18 garlic bread eater, risky milk drinker. spends her days taking care of her fish Root2. Lisa Lee ’17 is actually a black cat in disguise. Jason Fujikuni, RISD ’17 trips on flat ground and vacations in his bed. Miranda Chao ’18 likes juice and all juice byproducts. e-board portraits Soyoon Kim ‘18 | Graphite Miranda Chao ‘18 | Graphite
Daydream (Marimo) Cynthia Wang, RISD â€˜16 | Oil on Canvas