Kim Tsuyuki
Arts & Entertainment Editor

“I strive to write poetry without the capital ‘p,’ and the goal is to change the stigma around poetry being tacky, depressing, or grossly romantic,” said fourth-year Keylee Leong. 

Meet Keylee Leong! She is finishing up her English major with an emphasis in Creative Writing. eLong writes poetry and short fiction and describes her writing style as humorous. She’s currently working on her poetry book and wrote “Rotten Mangoes,” which is her favorite piece at the moment. “It’s a short haiku based on the hundreds of mangos sitting in yards around Oahu, including my own, and it’s just a fun, short read.”

Rotten Mangos

Smell like summertime
the warm Kona breeze wafting
Tutu’s scrunched up nose

Look like hibiscus
splashed with sun rays tickling
heavy fruit fly wings

Feel like fresh tako
slimy hot tendrils dripping
gooey summer sweets

Sound like hard ua
clapping thunder shakes the trees
a kolea feasts

Watchu mean da taste?
Only dummehs eat dat stuff
now go rake da yard

Leong is from Hawaii, and she hopes that, through her writing, she can help others understand what it’s like to grow up in modern-day Hawaii through a local’s eyes. “Everyone I know is mixed with at least four different ethnicities. I’ve been practicing different parts of my Chinese, Korean, Hawaiian, and Filipino culture my whole life. It was only when I left Hawaii that I really embraced what it means to be from these different cultures, especially Hawaiian,” said Leong. “My poetry has always been influenced by Hawaii and what it means to be Hawaiian to me. I find that poetry is one of the best ways to experience culture rather than just read about it.”

For Leong, it’s always been a struggle growing up with so many different cultures: “It’s hard for me to pick and choose . . . and, a lot of times, I have imposter syndrome because I’d always see my classmates really embracing our Hawaiian roots, or others who go to temple and things like that.” However, she says that reading and learning are how she stays in tune with her different identities: “Staying educated about the history of Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, and Korean people, as well as keeping up with the news and certain movements, makes me feel more in touch than anything else. And writing poetry to help blend all the values and experiences I’ve learned about makes me feel better, I think.”

“To the writers in the AAPI community, I would say to not force yourself to write traditionally,” she advises, “A lot of Asian cultures are very strict about following traditions, but writing is about sharing your experiences, whether it be through poetry, prose, short fiction, etc. Express your voice and support your community, but do it your way.”

While Leong doesn’t want to write for a living, she hopes to publish one or two books to express how she grew up. For now, she has a job at Kamehameha School after she graduates. She hopes she can go to graduate school and become a teacher. “My passion for writing started my sophomore year of high school. My English teacher then, Mr. Lazarus, was an inspiration and kept me going through some really hard times in my personal life. I also have a lot of experience working with children, and it is such a fulfilling job with no dull moments. I want to be there for kids as they grow up and hopefully steer them on the most successful path possible.”

Featured Image: Courtesy of Keylee Long

Author

  • Kim Tsuyuki is a third-year English major with a minor in Film Studies. This is her first year working for the QC and is currently writing for the Arts & Entertainment section. When she isn’t working, she can be found playing video games, collecting stickers, and watching the same three movies (over and over, like chill out Kim). She’s kinda sad, but mostly hungry.

Kim Tsuyuki is a third-year English major with a minor in Film Studies. This is her first year working for the QC and is currently writing for the Arts & Entertainment section. When she isn’t working, she can be found playing video games, collecting stickers, and watching the same three movies (over and over, like chill out Kim). She’s kinda sad, but mostly hungry.

  1. Joe
    May 22, 2021

    Well done, Kim. Keep writing, Keylee!

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