Chopsticks Alley Podcast Episode 8:
An Interview With Spoken Word Poet Kristina Robertson
Hosts: Jennifer Tran & Trami Cron
Sponsor: Thomas Vo Farmers Agency
Producer: Chopsticks Alley
Guest: Kristina Robertson
Edited by: Jennifer Tran
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Kristina Robertson is a Thai American, confessional poet who writes with authenticity and brazen honesty. Kristina Robertson is a confessional poet who writes with authenticity and brazen honesty. She was a member of the 2009 and 2010 San Jose Poetry Slam Team and Co-Hosted Word Village Open Mic and Golden State Slam in Oakland from 2009-2013. She has been sharing her poetry at numerous open mics and events in San Jose including exhibits presented by us, "Chopsticks Alley Art.” We love her so much, we want to share her words with you!
In Chopsticks Alley's new Art Talk, we will be sharing with our audience all things related to art from the Southeast Asian communities.
Prelude No. 2 by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Photo by Chris Bolor
Kristina Robertson poems from podcast:
Back to the Beginning
When we are born, we open our eyes for the first time to unconditional LOVE.
We are infinitely acclaimed.
We are exquisiteness swaddled in our own world of perfection.
We become the creators to excellence
And our survival wishes are at the edge of our fingertips.
But as we experience pain for the first time;
Emotional, gut wrenching, earth shattering heartache,
When we are taught judgment and intolerance,
When we are born equal shaping into a division sign,
When we are made to feel less than ideal,
And it feels as if the womb swallows us back into the darkness,
We quickly rush to sleep so we can dream.
We guard our wishing well to our chest so no one will steal our identity.
So we become faceless to our own light.
We are the humming bird lodged in our throat,
Singing our way out.
We are the impenetrable rain forest banned from our eyes.
So we must learn to communicate with our heart beats.
We must discover how to break the glass,
and show off our blemishes like they were our triumphs.
And close our eyes while we blow on the dandelion seeds to wish us all back to the beginning,
When we were unknown but opening our eyes for the first time to unconditional love.
I Never Knew
I am Thai, Hawaiian, Japanese, Scottish, and Cherokee.
But in my mind, people see is a Twinkie.
"You know, yellow on the outside,
white on the inside."
Filing my client Chi-Man Ku's taxes,
I addressed the label last name, first:
Laughter came easy at his expense.
My father never taught me to drive.
He said Asians had bad peripherals.
The DMV failed me twice,
convinced it was my eyes and not my experience.
Once, an Asian poet called me offensive,
and I told him it was just a joke.
like the word "chink" from a boy I had a crush on in high school,
or the way my classmates pulled at the sides of their eyes.
My father refers to Asians as Chinamen.
He is not Asian.
I am not adopted.
I resemble the "chinky eyed masochist" who left him.
My mother sinned all over Bangkok.
Brought to this country to babysit her new father's children,
I was a mistake made while using my father to escape.
She never loved him, but credits him with her new life outside of her family.
My father loves me, but when he looks at me, I know he sees her.
The girl who used him and disappeared with his kindergartner.
He fought for me, and when I was ten, I chose with the mediator to leave her.
She tells me to this day, she "let me" go.
I was born into America, no cultural residue.
From a generation of interracial unions and mixed babies.
I have a mouth that will cut like a katana.
I was not taught to be weak and submissive.
I am neither exotic nor eager to please like a geisha.
Refusing to sit still and look pretty,
I find myself sitting still and trying to look pretty,
and for that, I am a contradiction.
“Reading Rainbow” taught me I could be
anything I wanted to be when I grew up.
It taught me which box I could check,
to allow me to be white collar instead of red dress.
As a child, I learned to loathe this dark hair, this skin.
Through my slanted eyes I only saw my father's view.
His ignorance and anger at my mother assaulting me instead of her.
I have created an image onstage for people who look nothing like me.
I am the token "me love you long time" girl.
I make jokes, and the jokes turn to hypocrisy.
I have refused to get revolutionary,
yet hold my fist high for Asian Pride.
I tattoo the word “Poetry” on my back in Thai,
but don't recognize the script.
I have worn a t-shirt emblazoned “Everyone Loves an Asian Girl,”
but never loved that description of me.
I am sorry.
I have always stood under the sunlight for my freckles to radiate.
I have never let the Pacific Islands touch my toes.
I have never had the patience to learn about Thailand.
It is a piece of me, no matter how much I joke.
I never knew how sharp the words were that dug through my skin.
I never knew how the effect I could have on people that look like me.
I never knew how disrespectful I was to my mother and my lineage,
Or how Asian Americans could see me
as a racist.
When we are happy on Social Media,
And yet the walls around us come crashing down,
We lie in our unmade bed and create our own fantasy of what we want the world to see.
Where even our Facebook has become the mask to hide our own face from certainty,
But beyond our followers,
there are people who can see us beneath the camouflage.
Because they know the real us.
They’ve glimpsed the sadness in our eyes,
And yet found beauty even in our anguish.
Our perception of reality seeks validity in order to feel one with humanity.
They tell us to:
Humble our fairytales.
Break the ice of our true authenticity.
Don’t ever stop dreaming,
Hash tag: “Keep on believing!”
We are the damsels,
Photoshopping our distress
Take off our masks,
Expose our true apprehension,
Show them our battle scars,
Reveal what haunts us in our sleep
and why we are afraid to be alone when awake.
Reach out for any hand willing to pull us out of the current.
As we fasten our anxiety with a seatbelt,
As we fall into reality’s cyclone,
As our lovers can only match our rushing heart beats to the beats played in their head phones.
We cannot go unnoticed in their eyes.
We will not be the pessimistic shadow lurking under our bed.
Hold onto us tightly when we tell you that depression exists,
Because beyond our selfie power stance,
We are just broken souls admitting we need love like a security blanket on a winter’s night.
Remind us that we are not alone in this fight.
We are a testament that it’s more than a picture or status that describes the essence of us
We wake up to put on our makeup for the virtual world to see
That our life is this fairy tale being painted onto a fresh canvas
For the artist to sculpt intimacy and trust from our broken hearts
When they etch the smile so meticulously from our dreams
Because no one wants to see the sadness we feel even when we are contained inside the rainbow
So we hide behind a social media mask,
In order to survive the pressures of our reality.
Loves and Likes becomes butterflies trapped inside our rib cage
But happiness exists within a dandelion seed blowing to get out of our phone screen.