I’m back in my neighbourhood after nearly two months of travelling – at least that’s what it feels like. The preparation for a long voyage consumes the days before, the week after my 5 week trip to Canada, Hawaii and Europe was only unpacking and repacking for a 5 day work trip to Bangkok. Now, I’m back for two weeks, before I’m off to an AIDS conference in Colombo, and though it’s a short time, it feels relatively long, compared to what I’ve just been through!
Just before this last trip I received the catalogue for Signature Editions from Winnipeg, Canada. A full page to promote my new book of poetry coming out in November: Bowling Pin Fire. I’m so pleased. All that hard work editing it with John in the last few months and it’s really, truly coming out. I’ve had minimal contact with the publisher so I’m still curious whether what the latest draft of the cover looks like, and more details about distribution and promotion, but yay: it’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming.
At my Pearson Reunion, a dear friend, Douglas, commented that sometimes being an artist is just being around for long enough. “Oh no, I’m sorry, that sounds horrible, I didn’t mean that to be insulting,” he apologised right after. But I knew what he was saying: experience, longevity (which, for some reason, I pronounced as long-e-tivity for the first 30 years of my life), and perserverance pay off. Also, that age brings wisdom, hopefully better skills, and an awareness of how your art fits into the greater world, artistic or mainstream.
Right now, I’m riding high. Not only is the poetry book coming out, but I’ve been asked to be guest editor for the AIDS Project of Los Angeles’ creative journal, Corpus. It’s an exciting project and I like the guy I’m working with on it already! And in the last few months, I’ve met two interesting young Asian-American men who’d found my work on the internet, and requested to meet me while passing through Sydney (one from San Francisco, the other from Auckland). It’s good to meet a new generation of artists and thinkers, to discuss ideas, to be honoured that they’ve connected with something in my work or writing that prompted them to want to meet me, and to ponder changes in the world.
Young referred to an anthology of Asian-Canadian gay writing called Rice, which my piece had been pulled from at the last minute (by the editor, one of my first experiences with flaky and idiotic editors), and I thought about how exciting it was to start writing at that time: the age of gay anthologies and when identity politics were still about how to treat each other more kindly. And how the world has changed since then: the progress in gay and lesbian rights, visibility of Asians in media, more diverse gay and lesbian communities. Ah, it makes the heart glad. The curmudgeons that long for the good old days. The cynics that say things never change. But I’ve been through a social movement that has seen change for the better. As Homer Simpson would say, Woohoo. As the Spartans would say in the movie “300”, Hawoo.