“What struck me from Changming's drafts were the three most basic universal values: truth, good and beauty. However, I also pondered on the relevance of aesthetics and goodness for people who have difficulties just making it through the day: the working class, refugees, the uneducated, the homeless. In this poem, I was interested in subversion and irony. Using Changming's draft, I selected English words originating from Greek as themes in the poem: calligraphy (kaligraphia: beautiful writing), euphony (evfonia: good sound) and cacophony (kakofonia: bad sound). Good (Kala) and good luck (kalo kuragio, literally ‘good courage’) were actual words taught to me by an ex-asylum-seeker to Greece fleeing persecution from Iran when I was an artist-in-residence in Athens researching with Babel, a daycare centre for migrants with mental health issues. I also replaced ‘th’ letters with the Greek ‘θ’ (theta) and certain ‘l’s with the ‘λ’ (lamda) for its resemblance to the Chinese character ‘人. ’”



                                                                                          ~ ~ ~









On Privilege (Oθerwise Known as Mαslow’s Hierαchy of Needs)


I αm separated from my moθer, furθer
θan θe distαnce between her kitchen and my room.
I prαctice nun lull nil null in flourishes over and over,
as θe strokes of her wishes from her mop streαk θe floor.
Θey dry, αnyway.


Nαtive tongues are sαlted in sweαt, cured in teαrs.
Too heavy to speak, I left my mother and two destitute aunts.
In Europe, I volunteer in a shelter. Αn αsylum seeker teαches me
words she leαrned upon αrrivαλ: Good, θen


I heαr θese sounds and I θink ευphony, I θink privilege
and shame to not hαve known κακοphony, whαt my moθer knows
or oθerwise.