Mercedes Eng

Mercedes Eng's picture
Photo credit: 
author
Biography: 

Mercedes Xue mei Eng is a prairie-born poet living on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Swx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Eng’s creative practice combines experiential knowledge, community organizing, independent study, and a hybrid poetics that deploys multiple forms of language from theory to memoir to official state documents to art and photography. She is the author of Mercenary English, a poem about sex work, violence, and resistance in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver, and Prison Industrial Complex Explodes, winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. my yt mama, documents a childhood lived under white supremacy in Canadian prairies. Her writing has appeared in Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry, Jacket 2, Asian American Literary Review, The Abolitionist, r/ally (No One Is Illegal), and Survaillance and M’aidez (Press Release).

Micro-interview: 
Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager?: 

I was writing not reading poetry as a teen, but I would say my favourite poem from that time would the The Cure's song, "Just Like Heaven"

When did you first start writing poetry? And then when did you start thinking of yourself as a poet?: 

I started as a teen but that didn't last long, and then I returned to it until my mid-30's. Poetry was a way to work through the shame I carried as a former survival sex worker, then poetry was a way to work through the anger that inevitably came after I weeded out the shame. In university I often had trouble with the essay form and poetry was a way to think through, to respond to, to challenge, the theoretical writing I was required to read. Poetry was a way to transmute the trauma I experienced into something beautiful. I started to think of myself as poet when I self-published my first chapbook.

What do you think a poet’s “job” is?: 

My job as a poet is to be present, to listen, to create accessible spaces for poets, to tear down oppressive systems.

If you have a poem in our anthology what inspired you to write it?: 

"Mariah according to my yt mama” considers how my mother's comments about race, sometimes via popular culture such as Cher's song "Halfbreed" or Mariah Carey's "biraciality", impacted my sense of self and worldview. And because Mariah is a QUEEN. 

 

If you had to choose one poem to memorize from our anthology, which one would it be?: 

Cecily Nicholson's "Road Shoulders"

 

 

Publications: 
Title: 
Mercenary English
Publisher: 
CUE, Talonbooks
Date: 
2013, 2018
Publication type: 
Book
Title: 
Prison Industrial Complex Explodes
Publisher: 
Talonbooks
Date: 
2017
Publication type: 
Book
Title: 
my yt mama
Publisher: 
Talonbooks
Date: 
2020
Publication type: 
Book