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.