Over in the other world, I am the Poetry Editor of Peril Magazine, which feels like a very lucky honour – to be able to contribute to and shape the poetry contributions of this online space that fosters Asian-Australian arts and culture. Peril’s editors, advisers and board members are an impressive lot, and their (voluntary) work ethic is astonishing.
In the coming few weeks, Peril will be showcasing a range of Asian-Australian poets and writers. In preparing for this (together with Peril’s Prose Editor, Lian Low), I have had the privilege of interviewing some incredible Asian-Australian writers, asking questions of identity, creative process and place. While I’ll be discussing this more fully in the actual Peril site, one element that has stayed with me in this process is that the questions I am asking writers are questions I have often asked myself.
Without going into too many details, I often find my family background and cultural heritage to be fraught and complicated, for personal, political and creative reasons. My mother was adamant that we would have “Anglo names” so that no one could ever single us out on the basis of “being ethnic”, which for her was fertile grounds for prejudice and discrimination. And so, with my Anglo name, my received pronunciation English, and vague visual ethnicity I can “pass” quite often for someone “just a little bit of something” – indeterminate enough to be acceptable to mainstream society. For which I should be grateful, right?
This essay was written some time ago, and has languished in a folder in successive computers. I was going to post it on the Peril site, but its length has deterred me. For those, however, who might have the time I just wanted to let you know I have a love of prawns cooked in Fanta.