I grew up with a writing teacher I adored but whose editing style made all my writing sound like her. I remember another high school teacher told me that teachers should never cross out and rewrite over students’ work, and my reaction was “say what now?” because that was how I had been edited forever. In high school, I wrote a memoir piece that won a national writing contest that was to make me a “shoo-in for the Ivies.” I wrote it, it was healing, I felt deeply connected to the piece, and it did bring me very close to that teacher – but she had a very heavy hand in editing the piece. When you read it, it does not sound like a 17-year-old girl. It sounds like an older, educated, hyper intellectual bossy ethnic senior citizen (a.k.a. my beloved teacher). (Also, the piece did win that national contest, and I was as predicted, a shoo-in for the Ivies. As an aside, there was a point where I stopped doing any classwork, ticking off every teacher and gave myself a heart attack that my acceptance would be rescinded, but it all worked. Ahh, fairy-tale endings.)

I spoke Korean exclusively from birth to about age 3 or 4, whenever we moved to England then the U.S. and I entered the local school system. Because of that, my beloved teacher said repeatedly during our time together, “you can never be a true poet because you lack an intimacy of language. Your syntax is all wrong.” (And as an aside, I wonder, maybe that’s what’s behind my exhaustion-fueled garbled sentences to my family. I am infamous in my apartment for reverse subject and verb words or other perplexing combinations. Things don’t always come out of my mouth in the right order.)

I really did get so much from my relationship with my teacher and I do love her for everything she’s given me and for what we shared, but it also took years to untangle myself from her influence in my writing and to find my own voice – my actual, figurative, literal, physical voice. (She was not the only one who inadvertently handicapped me but she is part of that team.) I am finally in a place where when I write, I am one with the writing. It’s not that I don’t accept edits or constructive criticism, it’s just this my voice. It is not baroque, rich with ten-dollar-words, multi-syllabic exclamations of whatever point I’m trying to make. It’s pretty straightforward, plain, and simple. (Dude, I have friends who write like Rachimoniv on the piano, while I’m here plunking out Hot Cross Buns.)
So all of which is to introduce my latest haiku (first line 5 syllables, second liken 7, third line 5).

Fuck you fuck you fuck
You fuck you fuck you fuck you
Fuck you fuck you. Fuck.

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