In the junior high yearbook, there is an innocuous photo of an overweight Asian American girl running after an errant rubber ball. The balls are standard gym grade, the color of toasted salami, with a pleasing pattern of small stars stamped all over them, slightly raised to massage the fingers mid-dribble. The skin is thick enough to make a satisfying “Tang!” on the ground when kicked or flung. A good grade in physical education was key to a commendable average (90%+); a commendable average opened doors to a prestigious university (top-tier, ideally Ivy); a prestigious university charted the path to a successful career (likely medicine, engineering, accounting, or law); a successful career reaped the hard-earned rewards of a comfortable home, serene quality of life, and conscientious capacity to give back (supporting one’s parents in their vulnerable years). Such pursuits of balls, times, points, scores, ribbons, trophies, scholarships, and accolades were...
Bite Out Your Tongue: A Record of Ugly Youth
Nancy Kang is Canada Research Chair in Transnational Feminisms and Gender-Based Violence, Tier II at the University of Manitoba. Her creative work appears in such venues as Stone Canoe, Ricepaper Magazine, Little Patuxent Review, ARIEL, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and Canadian Literature. She is co-author with Silvio Torres-Saillant of The Once and Future Muse: The Poetry and Poetics of Rhina P. Espaillat (2018). The preceding composition was completed, in part, thanks to funding from the Canada Research Chairs Program.
Nancy Kang; Bite Out Your Tongue: A Record of Ugly Youth. Meridians 1 October 2019; 18 (2): 358–371. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15366936-7775718
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