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Flapper Press Poetry Café Welcomes Midwest Youth Poet Eddy Jiang

By Annie Newcomer:


The Flapper Press Poetry Café features the work of poets of all ages from around the globe. This week, we talk to young poet Eddy Jiang.


Eddy Jiang

Born and raised in Overland Park, Kansas, Eddy Jiang is a junior at Blue Valley High School. He loves reading and writing (writing more than reading), especially poetry. In 2020, his poem “The Garden Path” was selected as a Silver Key winner of the Scholastic Writing Awards Contest and was published in Missouri Youth Write. More recently, his personal memoir, “Toy Piano,” was selected as a Gold Key winner in 2022, and his poem “During the Summer” was published in KC Voices Youth. He plays piano and violin and is the concertmaster of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City. He also swims competitively and enjoys baking.


AN: Welcome to the Flapper Press Poetry Café, Eddy. Why do you think it is important for youth to write? And when did you first start writing poetry? Do you think this gift of writing poetry is a part of you now, and do you plan to always make time for poetry?


EJ: It’s important for youth to write because they have that childlike sense of wonder, that innate curiosity to discover, that must be nurtured and grown. They experience the purest, rawest form of emotion, and writing gives form to that emotion. It sculpts your thoughts into words, words into sentences, and sentences into stories as they flow from your mind to your paper. Writing is interdimensional—it bridges the gap between the complex inner workings of your subconscious and the simple reality of the outside world.

I first started writing poetry in elementary school, short haikus and acrostic poems that didn’t really resonate with me. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I truly began to appreciate poetry as a craft. Poetry provided me an outlet of expression to just be myself, raw and real, free from any external pressures. Of course poetry is a part of me now; it allows me to explore myself and try to make sense of everything I’m feeling. I will always have time for poetry.


AN: Poetry is so rhythmical. How does being a musician, with your love of violin and piano, play into your artistry as a poet?


EJ: Poetry is so lyrical. I think that’s why I fell in love with it. I was a musician long before I became a poet, but the first time I read a poem, or rather heard it, it was the cadences of the poem that called to me. I have a fascination, even an obsession, with phonaesthetics, the musicality associated with the sounds of certain words, probably because of my musicianship. This plays into my diction and, subsequently, my tone. Choosing the perfect word is always the most difficult part for me to nail down in my poems. I spend hours, sometimes even days, mulling over one word because it just doesn’t sound right. This might seem excessive, but in the end, it’s all worth it. Every word in my poems is purposefully crafted to evoke a certain tone.


AN: I need to ask you, since I swam collegiately and you are a competitive swimmer, how does the motion of moving through water and the discipline of a competitive swimmer assist you in writing?


EJ: Writing has a rhythm to it, an underlying current that drives your writing forward. Swimming is the same, not only with the strokes of your arms or the kicks of your legs but also with the back-and-forth nature of lap swimming. It’s my familiarity with this perpetual motion that assists me in creating a pulse in my writing to evoke both constancy and change.


AN: What question would be a good one for me to ask you concerning your poetry? Please ask and answer.


EJ: What is your personal process for writing poetry?


Observation is the heart of a poem. Experience is the soul. Poems are everywhere. When a poem wants to be found, it comes to me. I’ll be walking home from school or eating dinner with my family, and I’ll notice or feel something beautiful that just stays with me until I write it down. For me, poetry is all about capturing that resonance and evoking it within others. The most powerful thing about poetry is its ability to move people with a simple subject or theme. Within each and every one of my poems, I want to conjure a vivid emotion or scene in the reader’s mind; I love imagery. The rest of the poem comes to me in bits and pieces. The hard part is knowing when to finish.


AN: Why do you not use punctuation except for commas and capitalization on the first line?


EJ: I choose not to use a lot of punctuation in my poems because I feel that it restricts readers, and I usually already break lines where natural pauses would fall. I like capitalizing the first letter of each line to suggest a sense of completeness, as if each line could stand by itself.


AN: Eddy, now it is time for me to invite you to share 3 of your poems with our readers.


 

This poem was inspired by Bob Hicok’s poem “How Origami Was Invented.” I wanted to capture my stream of consciousness in its rawest form while being vulnerable about my insecurities.


How Fish Were Invented


In kindergarten, we had two

pet goldfish. They say that

goldfish are smart. I didn’t think so.

In kindergarten, we were drawing fish, because

we had just finished reading The Rainbow Fish, and

my classmates marveled at mine, all innocent and wide-eyed,


like fish. “It’s better than Mrs. Culbertson’s.”

In kindergarten, we were spelling

fish: “f, i, s, h,” and I knew that

the plural of fish is still fish, and I thought that

the f in fish looked more like a two-legged alligator than a fish.


In fifth grade, my handwriting


was a fish. It

took hold of my pencil

took hold of my hand

took hold of my mind. It

took me minutes to write out


a single sentence. At least my handwriting looked

like a printer’s, all

straight lines and

straight curves, never

straight enough.


Now,


it’s just chicken scratch, but chickens are better

than fish. In my physics class, we were learning about entropy,

disorder, like coffee spilled haphazardly onto a page.

I don’t even drink coffee. I

prefer water, water


that stills in an empty fishbowl,

broken by a dip of a toe,

or just broken.

I felt like a fish.

I never liked fish.

 

Love is such a powerful, senseless emotion. With this poem, I wanted to subvert the traditional association of love with airiness and femininity by embodying the chaos and confusion of love—how there's really no logic or reason to feeling this particular way—and personifying Love as a he.


Love


Love is saccharine

Sticky and sickly

Stick of a heart-shaped cherry lollipop

Chewed down and lolled out of the left corner of his mouth

Turned up in a lopsided grin

Lips tinted sanguine

And glazed

As he flirts his tongue along his bottom lip

I wonder how his teeth are so glaringly white

Love hugs tight from behind

Arms wrapped ’round in

Suffocating embrace

Tugging at

Threads of reds and ribbons

Tied tight into bows

Rose-colored glasses, gold-rimmed, and

Rows and rows of roses

Thorns prick fingertips

Stained scarlet

There is no escape

Not with Love

So you spiral downwards

Or upwards

It’s all the same direction

 

Someone once told me that this poem felt like one big, long, drawn-out adjective, and I kind of like that description. My mom is the most important woman in my life, and I wanted to evoke her warmth and the sense of safety that she brings.


During the Summer


During the summer

My mother used to rise

Just before the sun rose

Just before the sun cast

Glowing shades of warm, mellow pastels upon the iridescent sky

Watercolors smeared upon a canvas of pillowy clouds

In big, broad brushstrokes


She used to stride

Up and down the house

Doing anything and everything

Her faint footsteps delicately grazing the rich, hardwood floorboards with just enough weight

To resound throughout the house

And nudge the rest of us awake

But not fully


She used to throw all the windows open

Blanketing the house in crisp sheets of morning air

Still earthy and laced with dew

And rustically idyllic

And then when the heat set in

She’d never bother to close the windows

And we’d have to do it ourselves instead


When the sun dipped below the horizon

And the sky turned orange and bittersweet

I’d be able to hear all the chirping of the crickets

And the croaking of the frogs

And the gentle hum of the cars whirring by

Their headlights sweeping through my bedroom

And projecting phosphorescent shapes onto my ceilings and walls


It was magical

Everything lulling me into a trance

Just before I drifted off to sleep

Consumed by a state of bliss

It was perfect

 

Annie Klier Newcomer founded a not-for-profit, Kansas City Spirit , that served children in metropolitan Kansas for a decade. Annie volunteers in chess and poetry after-school programs in Kansas City, Missouri. She and her husband, David, and the staff of the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens are working to develop The Emily Dickinson Garden in hopes of bringing art and poetry educational programs to their community.


Annie helms the Flapper Press Poetry Café—dedicated to celebrating poets from around the world and to encouraging everyone to both read and write poetry!

Presenting a wide range of poetry with a mission to promote a love and understanding of poetry for all. We welcome submissions for compelling poetry and look forward to publishing and supporting your creative endeavors. Submissions may also be considered for the Pushcart Prize.


Submission Guidelines:

1. Share at least three (3) poems

2. Include a short bio of 50–100 words, written in the third person.

(Plus any website and links.)

3. Share a brief backstory on each submitted poem

4. Submit an Author's photo and any images you want to include with the poems

5. Send all submissions and questions to: info@flapperpress.com

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