Diana Khoi Nguyen

A centaur from the waist up.

Poet and human.

Provincetown = Kythera 2.0

No, really--my time here reminds me very much of my month on the Grecian isle. Yes, I'm not isolated and wholly alone or without English-language interaction--but something about the beach layout and the sun-slant here reminds me of Kythera. I feel calm and at peace (which is easy of course).

I'm also enjoying my time with Martha and getting to know how she reads/looks at a poem. I found out yesterday that like me, she also makes food lists a priority when she's on vacation. We all had lunch as a class today--food was so-so, but I was happy for the company as all my eats/meals have been me + iPhone/Instagramming.

Every day I just go to the beach--and it's not crowded, dirty, or gross--it's just really peaceful and the water is incredibly wonderful--and I'm very critical of my water/beaches. I truly understand why people come here regularly every summer. It's like a domestic (vs. international) dream out here.

Two days ago, something strange happened or didn't happen in workshop. I'm not wholly sure if I'm paranoid--but basically, one student in class had "Chinese fortune cookie / slip" in his poem and someone made a comment about how "slip" wasn't necessary, it was implied, etc.--and I added that "Chinese" wasn't, either--since everyone knows what a fortune cookie is, and I'm not so sure it's 100% Chinese or even 1% Chinese. I will also add that I am the only non-white person in the classroom. So there was talk for a while about other things in the poem. Then another student started to talk about how Chinese fortune cookies fortunes, "no offense" were generic, written like horoscopes, etc. Except I could have sworn that when she said "no offense"--she looked right at me! And hadn't been before / after saying that. I can't tell if this was just normal eye-scanning-while-talking in class (she's a wonderful person and I like her company very much) or if she looked at me because (1) I said "Chinese" wasn't necessary at the beginning of the poem-talk and (2) I am Asian-looking (duh, Asian-American).

Now, I am definitely not one to feel strongly about being Asian-American--and have so many reservations about applying/doing Kundiman--and didn't really want to join Our Word, Columbia's writing group for non-whites--but I did anyway because a friend said--it's free, and we get access to great writers that others wouldn't. So I did. And I worked with some awesome people! But I hated going to the round-table discussions with guest speakers/student-members because it involved sitting through a lot of complaining from my peers about the "discrimination" they perceived all the time. Which I think is partially bullshit--I can't recall a moment in all my 28 years in America feeling discriminated against in school (or elsewhere) for how I looked (okay, it sucked being the only Asian face in elementary school, but I'm going to chalk that up to dumb-ass young kids--I was dumb and young, too).--but never in my adolescent/adult life have I been made aware that I look any different from anyone else (that is, that I am of Asian descent). And I'm skeptical that all these stories were truly of discrimination. Frankly, I thought, I think the teacher said that to you because your comment was STUPID, not because you look different. I do feel that there are some with race-sensitivity issues--and these are the ones to perceive the racism, etc. And a lot of the times, it's just not there.

Anyway. I can't help but wonder if I'm doing this here. For the first time in my life. I'm not sure why it came to mind--why I can't be sure--why I couldn't just ask my classmate if the look was intention (how awkward a confrontation that is). Anyway, I think it was just a coincidence because no one looked at me when I made the "Chinese" comment--or when the student said "no offense" while looking at me.

I'm not sure how to reconcile my confusion about this small incident--but I guess, I'm keeping tabs on myself.

And it can't hurt to apply to Kundiman--I hope to be accepted--and if so, swept away by the camaraderie. No real group of Asians/Asian-Americans have ever welcomed me into their throng, including my family. So maybe it can start in my late 20s.

In other unrelated news: got 2 poetry bad news this week--but! Cal found my 3rd draft of my poetry review to be "excellent" and will be publishing in the next issue of Lana Turner. I somehow redeemed myself. Am excited to have critical prose forthcoming for the first time! Maybe I should force myself to do this more often ...