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‘Everything became a record of what we touched, or hadn’t – where our hands lingered, or didn’t – how much distance we could afford to put between ourselves and others – what it cost us, what it didn’t.’

Cynthia Miller is a Malaysian-American poet, festival producer and innovation consultant living in Edinburgh. Her poetry collection, Honorifics, is an astonishing, adventurous, and innovative exploration of family, Malaysian-Chinese cultural identity, and immigration, and its invention and emotional heft will surely result in an army of fans.

 

Honorifics
By Cynthia Miller
Published by Nine Arches Press

 

 

SAYANG / SAYANG

n. / love
I have lived with this word
for 28 years and only now
is it taking root in my mouth.

See also: beloved, sweetheart

n. / waste
The thought of throwing food away.
The last bite of beef noodles,
gone rubbery and cold. Go on,
don’t make me save it.

See also: regretful loss

n. / pity
All this fruit left on the branch,
steeping in its own rot.
Who knows how long we have
before a plastic bag
of windfall rambutans
turns into sweet slop.

See also:
We’ll eat it anyway / yes darling /
my dearest / love is always dear /
love / is never a waste / love is
eating scraps for fear of waste /
love is / chiding you to finish
your plate / love, eat up / eat up
love / what a pity / such a
shame to waste love / love, how
much we’ve wasted

 

SOCIAL DISTANCING
after Charles Simic

It was the epoch of transmutation. Some evenings the neighbours turned into jaguars and
dragged their dinner up into the trees. You could touch anything you wanted and watch it
change. A bench became a hammerhead shark. Confetti became slices of wet ham. A postbox:
a baby grand piano. Where Town Hall once stood, now was a giant baklava oozing honey.
Someone turned their arm into long tentacles of squirming fingers and went trawling,
terrorising the streets by grasping everything in reach. We were afraid to venture out of our
homes.

Everything became a record of what we touched, or hadn’t – where our hands lingered, or
didn’t – how much distance we could afford to put between ourselves and others – what it cost
us, what it didn’t.

 

CYNTHIA MILLER is a Malaysian-American poet, festival producer and innovation consultant living in Edinburgh. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ambit, The Rialto, Butcher’s Dog, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, harana poetry, The Best New British and Irish Poets and Primers Volume Two. She is also Co-Founder of the Verve Poetry Festival.

 

 

 

 

Honorifics by Cynthia Miller is published by Nine Arches Press, June 2021, priced £9.99.

 

The Scottish BAME Writers Network (SBWN) provides advocacy, literary events and professional development opportunities for BAME writers based in or from Scotland. SBWN aims to connect Scottish BAME writers with the wider literary sector in Scotland. The network seeks to partner with literary organisations to facilitate necessary conversations around inclusive programming in an effort to address and overcome systemic barriers. SBWN prioritises BAME-led opportunities and is keen to bring focus to diverse literary voices while remaining as accessible as possible to marginalised groups.

 

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