Q&A with Wing Yau

The white background is superimposed with the cover of The Suburban Review #22 on the right. In the centre is a photo of Wing Yau. They wear a black beanie, sunglasses, and scarf, stand side-on and are smiling. Behind is the shore of a beach. Illustrated, coloured shapes frame the photo, and an orange arrow points to the handwritten text ‘Wing Yau’. On the left, text reads ‘New Issue Out Now thesuburbanreview.com’.

WING YAU is a Hong Kong-born poet whose recent work appears or is forthcoming in Voice and Verse Poetry Magazine, Variety Pack, Ucity Review, Taj Mahal Review, and more. Wing now lives with their partner in Melbourne, Australia. Wing can be found on Twitter: @Wingyau2021

Our Associate Editor, L.B. Hazelthorn, talks to Wing about their poem ‘Us (in a corporate poem)’ published in #22: Organise & Mobilise.

The ‘Us’ in your poem is hauntingly lonely in its sameness, ‘not asking how each of us/become the other.’ Is this loneliness something you consider more than a symptom of capitalism, as part of the human experience?

I think we are all lonely in a sense that, despite the many choices out there for us not to feel lonely, there is not one proper antonym for ‘lonely’. Having said that, I realise when I talk about work, I tend to use ‘we’ even though I might mean ‘I’. Like, ‘our work is to….’, or ‘we have sent you an email…’ Could it be a form of self-empowerment as well? To pretend there was more than just me doing ‘this’?

In the closing lines, only the unseen violinist retains something ‘he has/not given up’. What role do you think creative expression has in organising and mobilising against corporate homogeneity?

I remember the street violinist who used to play once a week outside our office building on Bay Street, Sydney. It was always between 3-4 p.m. when the music started and all of a sudden, the collective dull sound of breathing and talking and printing and typing that had kept the office alive was replaced by something different. We were transfigured, and our voices to each other were more genuine. Looking back, it was probably when the music came on that we stopped the constant thoughts that questioned the competence of each other, and were reminded that even the higher-ups have their own doubts and fears we didn’t know about, and that they, too, would go home and write/sing/paint/cry about these things.

Do you have a project that you’re passionate about at the moment?

After reading Studs Terkels’ Working, I have been working on a series of work poems that reflect the kind of ‘violence’ work has done to the psyche, and how the belittled soul can fight back in metaphor.