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"How Do I Explain Myself" on the New England Review Issue 44.2

Discounted link to purchase a copy. Read the excerpt here.

White Flowers


There's always an impulse to explain.

I spoke Chinese exclusively until the age 32. So it begins. 

I wrote a line in English, unsatisfied, then switched it to Chinese, equally unsatisfied. Whatever I put down, none of it was right… What-to-write has little to do with the content; it has everything to do with the very decision of language itself. Almost like not being able to decide between the two pens to hold, except this specific tool - language - ties to my heartstring. It ties to the reference in life that shapes my very perceived reality.


By choosing what language to write, I choose to enter an associated framework, sometimes, an ideology. I went about my life in a massive in-betweenness, in between two languages – their utterances, rules and expectations - and in between worlds.

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