Poem from My Twitter Feed

Today was the SCBWI Spring Spirit conference, and it was so much fun! I’ll post an actual write up soon, but for now, in honor of National Poetry Writing Month, here’s a long poem cobbled together from my some of Tweets today at Spring Spirit (#SpSp14):

Listening to Louise May & @DeirdreEJones at #SpSp14
makes me want to write
nonfiction picture books
with a fun twist.
#author #ButMyYAnovels

A good question:
How do you get the emotion
out of a biography?
My answer:
Find out WHY
you want to write the bio
& go there.

Happy to report that I finally met
my @LEEandLOW editor Louise May
in person!
And I got a hug!
So did @AprilChuART !

The internet has invaded
our face-to-face lives.

I refuse to believe
that my internet friends
are NOT figments
of my imagination!

So @jayasherguy denies
ever having spoken a keynote
at @SCBWI LA, but
I clearly remember cheering him on.
Anyone confirm or deny?

Excited to listen to @nikkigrimes9
taking photos of the audience!
I missed out
taking a photo
of her
taking a photo!

I didn’t plan to sit
at the front for
The Dating Game,
but it’s the best way
to admire @DeirdreEJones‘s

The premise for The Dating Game:
agent Tricia asks really great questions & stumps
3 plate-faced editors.

If I were stranded on a dessert island,
I would read my e-reader or phone.
Then when that died out,
I would write my own books.

Louise & Deirdre
both say their favorite book
is Little Women.
If Chad says his favorite book
is Little Women,
I will give him
a chocolate bunny.

No chocolate bunny for Chad.
But Jay gets one!

Just offered @Mike_Jung a piece of pumpkin zucchini cake
that he could not reach during main session. It’s delicious!
But I’m keeping the pumpkin blueberry muffin for myself.
#sorry #notreally

If my life is a hashtag,
it would be

Hurray for Asian-American protagonists in #kidlit!

My favorite fictional food
I want to eat right now
is a chocolate frog
with a pint of butter beer.

I know I was perceived as Hermione as a kid,
but I always felt like a cross between
Ron and Ginny. #WeasleyAtHeart

.@nikkigrimes9‘s closing lines made me
teary-eyed. The difference between good and great
is patience. #SpSp14

Poetry Friday – My Translation of “Moon” by Xue Tao

I love reading Poetry Friday posts!  It makes me so happy to hear other people’s thoughts on poetry.  Today I’d like to share a little background on a wonderful poem I co-translated a few years ago called “Moon” by Xue Tao, one of the most famous female poets who lived during the Tang Dynasty, over a thousand years ago.  Here is “Moon” in Chinese:



Here is my translation:


A small shape of a hook,
follows a fan of the Han.
The shadow of the moon is round,
which all of humankind can see.

Here is the unexpected creative journey of “Moon,” a little poem translation that could:

Poem Translation For Article
I originally translated this poem for an article “When Flowers Bloom, When Flowers Fall,” which I wrote for the poetry magazine Stone Telling.  It was a fun article to write, and it was actually was part of my research for world building for my YA novel set in an alternate ancient Asia.  I explain more about the premise of this novel and how it inspired my first published picture book at John Scalzi’s The Big Idea.

Lyrics to a Song Played on Internet Radio
Then when I started composing choral music, I decided to set my translation for “Moon” using the pentatonic scale.  “Moon” the song was recorded at one of my choral workshops, where I was singing with four other friends.  Then Kinetics Radio played it on internet radio.  You can’t listen to it now because it’s internet radio and meant to be ephemeral.  I continued to compose, building a set of five songs, each song taking its English text from translations of five different poems written by five different poets (2 women & 3 men) who lived during the Tang Dynasty.

Song Sung in Performance
“Moon” became the first song in “A Pentatonic Moon” a series of five songs written for women’s voices.   I debuted these songs in a concert of all my original compositions and arrangements, and the concert’s title was Songs of Moon and Mischief.  Twelve wonderful singers performed my music and my uncle KC played the Irish tin whistle.  It was an amazing event, and I feel so fortunate that we had an appreciative audience of around 90.  “Moon” was later performed by the San Francisco Choral Artists, whose concert received a rave review from the San Francisco Classical Voice.

Published in an Online Literary Journal as Text and as Song
Then “A Pentatonic Moon” was accepted for the inaugural issue of Interfictions, where they managed to embed the songs so you can listen to them while you read the translations!

Published as Part of a Musical Album
I’m currently planning an album release of Songs of Moon and Mischief, and “Moon” is one of them.  If all goes well, the album will be ready for download, and hopefully available as a CD, in late 2014.

This is the journey for “Moon” thus far.  I hope it continues to travel far and wide.

Sometimes a poem
is just a poem. But words
can transform to song.

Joining NaPoWriMo

So I had already decided for April I would post either a poem excerpt or new poem a month and then I discovered NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month.  What I like about their site is that they are featuring an independent poetry press each day in April!  So cool!

My poem for today is inspired by my publisher’s blog post about my book Summoning the Phoenix.  They posted a video of a girl playing Happy Birthday on the dizi, aka a bamboo flute!

When playing common
melodies, make them your own–
indulge in flourish!

Summoning the Phoenix featured on John Scalzi’s The Big Idea!

Today I’m so grateful to author John Scalzi for featuring my debut picture book SUMMONING THE PHOENIX as part of his blog series The Big Idea.  In this article, I share how The Big Idea of my picture book actually originated from research from a YA novel-still-in-progress that I envisioned while still in grad school.

A creative spark
grows into fire, refined
as The Big Idea.

Read about Summoning the Phoenix’s The Big Idea!


Celebrating Poetry and My Book’s Launch in April!

April is National Poetry Month AND the month where illustrator April Chu and I are launching our debut picture book SUMMONING THE PHOENIX: Poems & Prose about Chinese Musical Instruments! We’re having FOUR book parties in the San Francisco Bay Area and there are also other events soon to be confirmed. To celebrate National Poetry Month and our new shiny book, I’m sharing part of a list poem I wrote for Summoning the Phoenix. The poem is called “Being Backstage” and here’s the first stanza:

Now I must dress up:
Shiny black shoes,
Neatly pressed concert dress
Or crisp trousers, button-down shirt,
And a bow tie
Bow ties are cool.