Poetic commute

Jessica Hibbard in her delightful Overlap newsletter, of which I often look forward to receiving every week, wrote, “In one of my favorite books about writing, Verlyn Klinkenborg advocates for noticing things and developing sentences in your head before writing them down. A small, 17-syllable poem is is easy enough to manipulate without committing anything to paper, and I started to feel the shapes and rhythms of words in a different way.” She then recounted her experiences of constructing short poems during her commute to work. This exercise of noticing things and structuring her poems/thoughts before finally putting it on paper made her think, was she a better human because she wrote little poems, or did she write little poems because she was a better human?

I admitted I haven’t gotten around to noticing things as much these days. I am not sure if it’s because if I commute, it means I am the one driving — and when I drive, my focus will be entirely on the logistics of getting us safely from point A to point B and there is some linearity in that sense. More so than that, as I drive my mother around these days, I cease to think of driving as something pleasant, but more of a duty. Having noted this, I must find a way to notice again and write little poems while at that.

Unfortunately I will not be attending Women’s March in Kuala Lumpur again this weekend, but I will print out one of these posters designed by the collective Design for Activism (I am thinking of the one below where it says “none of us is free until all of us are free”) and as a feminist aunt to high-spirited teenage nieces I am making a conscious effort to speak to my girls about International Women’s Day, our demands for this year and the significance of every one of them and how these demands will impact their lives, and the importance of upholding themselves more so than their identities as someone’s daughter or wife, but as a human being with their own agency and rights to be respected. Are you marching this year?

A poster for Women's March Malaysia written "none of us is free until all of us are free" in Malay

Articles and a poem I am reading:

  • “I started seeing fat, beautiful models and actresses in catalogues, and on television shows. I would like to have seen more, but I was pleased to see them at all. I was and remain in awe of their confident beauty. I feel tenderness for them as well, for what they endured, and still endure, to achieve it. I sometimes choke up with love for them, and for the idea of how I could have lived if I had allowed myself to just weigh what I weighed.”
  • How coronavirus exposed inequality among workers.
  • Twitter wants to have Stories feature too?!
  • “I find that men who can sustain long, close friendships with women are more in tune with what women expect from one another and what we long for from our male friends and lovers,” says Maggie, a 35-year-old seamstress in New York. “Men sometimes think women’s emotional demands are unreasonable because they don’t realise that she’s asking for something she’d consider a bare minimum from a friend.” Maggie adds that it’s an “even greener flag if they’re lesbians,” indicating an ability to see women as independent and fully human rather than only as potential lovers.” Let’s talk about green flags that would make men worth dating.
  • Here we go again, as Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the presidential race. “And so we are, once again, being asked to question whether a woman is “electable” by which we really mean whether all of her qualifications for the job can outweigh the fact that she is a woman.”
  • Gretchen McCullouch, author of Because Internet, on having a weird Internet career.
  • “…at seven years old, i already knew the exhaustion of hearing my name butchered by hammerhead tongues.”


  • Reading: Still in the midst of bell hooks’ Teaching Critical Thinking.
  • Listening: Jazz drummer, Idris Muhammad. He was quite a prodigy, and if you haven’t heard his name yet, his songs had been sampled by the likes of Jamie xx, Drake, Beastie Boys, and Biggie. Thanks Flow State for the recommendation. Also this podcast from NASA, cleverly named Houston We Have a Podcast, on the subject of the Overview Effect, where human beings come to the realisation that there really is only one earth, and we’re all linked by systems as big as the climate and as small as replicating molecules.
  • Viewing: Started watching I Am Not Okay With This on Netflix. And this 1.8 billion pixel panorama of Mars!
  • Food & Drink: I love my cold brew and you will never get to pry it from my cold, dead hands. Also, I had oden.

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