WHAT TREES DO YOU PREFER IN THE CENTRE OF BOULEVARDS?
I love trees that grow in a round shape. I’m not a big nature person — I’m simply in favor of planting more trees.
WHAT TYPE OF READING DO YOU DO ON TRAINS (OR AEROPLANES)?
I fall asleep the whole way. Time on airplanes feels like “frozen time,” and in an ideal world, I’d be able to write a whole poem during that span. I recently re-watched the Sex and the City episode when Carrie and Samantha take the train from New York to San Francisco — the exaggeration on that show is unparalleled.
WHAT BUTTERFLIES DO YOU THINK GIVE THE MOST SATISFACTORY PERFORMANCES?
All of them! What wonders!
WHAT MOVIE DO YOU WATCH IN SECRET?
None! I’m pretty unabashed with my tastes.
WHAT LITERARY WORKS DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST UNDER-RATED?
I’d love to turn this question (and answer) into: Let’s celebrate BIPOC, QTPOC, LGBTQIA+, and disabled writers and artists while they are living. Let’s support small presses, the backbone of the literary community.
WHAT COLOURS DO MOST FOR YOU AFTER SIX P.M.?
Oooh. Pink is my favorite color, so pink all day, all night, specifically Barbie pink, also known as Pantone 219 C. After 6 PM, makes me think of sunset colors, which makes me think of the Sex on the Beach cocktail and the “Sunset on the Beach” boba slush — sunset oranges and reds.
I also love any shades of Veronica Lodge purple and Veronica Lodge jewel tones for these hours.
WHAT ANIMALS DO YOU PREFER TO HUMAN BEINGS?
Dogs, for sure. I miss my Skye Terrier, Buzzie, every day. He was a show dog puppy. His favorite food was apples.
WHAT IS THE PRINCIPAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR STATE OF MIND (MOOD) WHEN READING FICTION AND YOUR MIND WHEN READING HISTORY?
I’m an intellectually curious person. I especially love reading stories and writings about Old Hollywood.
CAN YOU HEAR ANYTHING IN A SEASHELL OTHER THAN THE ROAR OF THE OCEAN?
Oh, I don’t go to the beach. The sand tickles my feet. It’s so uncontrollable.
I went to the beach once, during a summer in Singapore. The goal was to eat a lunch of crabs and other hawker centre foods. The sand really was too much — never again.
WOULD WINGS BE AN IMPROVEMENT FOR THE HUMAN BODY?
A fashion statement. But I'd like to see them on our ears or feet. Maybe on a hat,
à la Hermes in Disney’s Hercules. Once during a poetry workshop, a student asked me how to pronounce “Hermes” (hur meez). I pronounced it like Hermès. That little moment brought a smile to my face during a busy evening. I’m also thinking about the origin of the Nike symbol.
WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO MOST FREQUENTLY?
MGM musicals from Hollywood’s Golden Age. I will say that the Gigi soundtrack is exceptional, especially “Waltz at Maxim’s.” I also love any music you’d dance to at a queer bar.
WHAT TWO HISTORICAL CHARACTERS WOULD YOU LIKE TO BRING TOGETHER?
Get back to me on this one. There’s so much mapping I’d need to do —
WHAT ARTICLE OF CLOTHING DO YOU WISH TO BRING BACK FROM HISTORICAL OBSCURITY?
Not an article of clothing, more of an accessory: this is still done today, but I loved it when women and femmes drew beauty marks on their faces, sometimes in the shape of a heart. I live for personal touches / quirks like this.
WHAT BUILDING DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST BEAUTIFUL IN THE WORLD?
Anything designed by I.M. Pei. When I was a student at Cornell, I worked as a docent at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, designed by Pei. I miss those days.
WHAT SIZE CITY DO YOU THINK THE MOST DESIRABLE?
I love this question because it reminds me of…okay, so I’m a big fan of Archie Comics and Riverdale. In Twelve-Cent Archie, Bart Beaty tackles the question of “What size town/city is Riverdale”? The size of Riverdale varies depending on which Archie comic we’re looking at: sometimes Riverdale is a small town, sometimes it’s a mid-size city with multiple malls, etc. It’s also fascinating how the distance from Riverdale to New York varies depending on the writer. Sometimes it’s a reasonable drive away, sometimes it’s a plane ride away, etc. I find these quirks really charming.
My family is from Hong Kong — I love big cities.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE ESSENCE OF FEMININITY?
It’s ever-evolving. I love a femininity that’s full claws out. Like Catwoman.
WHAT WORK FROM A PREVIOUS CENTURY WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE WRITTEN?
I like innovating and living in the present. But of course, my work with the Triple Sonnet stems from a long poetic history.
WHAT FORM OF AFTER LIFE — IF ANY — DO YOU ANTICIPATE?
I’d love to come back as the Loch Ness Monster.
WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE USED AS A MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION IN OUR DOWNTOWN STREETS?
Dinosaurs. But actually, let’s stick to self-driving cars.
WHAT ARE THE MOST OVER-RATED LUXURIES?
The discourse on “Quiet Luxury” is getting a bit tiring. I think we need more creativity, rather than focus on a materialistic goal. Also flying first or business class. Every time I get on a plane, and walk past first class, I sigh and wish I could sit there. But every time I get off the plane, and walk past first class, I’m relieved I didn’t spend my money in such a frivolous way, especially since I fall asleep on most plane rides. I am not spending my money on a “nicer” seat. I’ll just take the aisle, please.
WHAT WOULD YOU ASK WILLIAM BLAKE IN JEST?
Please recommend a poem to me and tell me why.
WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE ADDED TO THIS INTERVIEW?
I’m going to add a question Elizabeth Alexander asked my mentor / Poetry Mother, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon: “What is your ideal breakfast, lunch, and dinner?”
Dorothy Chan is the Triple Sonnet. Dorothy Chan is honey. Dorothy Chan is a lover of the honey pot emoji, followed by the mooncake emoji, followed by the heart with flames emoji. Dorothy Chan is excited for mooncake season. Dorothy Chan is the poet behind Return of the Chinese Femme, out this spring with Deep Vellum.