the grill

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - NEWS - Pho­to­graph by Kevin Stent / Words by Britt Mann

There’s a poem in Chris Tse’s new book in which the Welling­to­nian dwells on com­ing out to his par­ents. Not as a gay man (although he is) rather, as a poet.

He tells Sun­day that his par­ents were sup­port­ive of his cre­ative pur­suits, but they keen for him to have a well-pay­ing job – “be a good Asian boy”, and study medicine, law or ac­count­ing. He didn’t want to be any of those things, he says. So this poem is some­thing of a con­fes­sion.

“There’s no such thing as the per­fect time or the best way to tell loved ones about your po­etic in­cli­na­tions,” Tse writes.

“You need to muster up ev­ery ounce of courage in your be­ing and just say it.”

He warns oth­ers to pre­pare them­selves for a “full spec­trum” of re­ac­tions. His own mother sobbed; his father was stand-off­ish.

“I can’t imag­ine he’s per­son­ally known any po­ets in his life­time, nor had friends whose chil­dren turned out to be po­ets.”

Tse, the au­thor of the award-win­ning How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes, which was short­listed for the 2016 Ock­ham Book Awards, is not just a poet. His writ­ing spans short fic­tion and non-fic­tion and an­nual burger blog­ging for Welling­ton On a Plate. He’s dab­bled in act­ing. And he’s the proud owner of an awe-in­spir­ing col­lec­tion of blaz­ers.

Tse’s sec­ond book, He’s So MASC, is a col­lec­tion of po­ems that ex­plore, among other things, what it is to be young and gay and a man. It’s sprin­kled with blood and pop songs and starlight and wolves – a glo­ri­ous mess mir­ror­ing the dis­cord that comes with defin­ing your­self too nar­rowly.

In the wake of the book’s re­lease, Tse took our Sun­day Grill.

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