Stephanie Lai is an Australian author and essayist. She likes penguins, swing dancing, and having opinions. She is a left-handed archer, and an environmental educator. She lives in Melbourne.

Identity and Climate Change

So I’ve been in Singapore three weeks (almost) on my first! ever! residency!, and things are moving along. I’ve got pages of research, and I’ve had some interesting chats, and I have some ideas, but I still have a lot of data to gather.

Being an Australian in Singapore for a couple of months doing research on how sustainable education and awareness takes place, particularly in regards to cultural identity, is hard without existing networks. My focus is on meeting people and chatting with them in person, but that’s not always possible so I’ve developed a basic survey to help with some data gathering.

It doesn’t go quite into the nuance I’m after. I’m really after how traditional communities impact how people interact with climate change and sustainability education, and that can be hard to whittle down from a dozen questions. I’m doing a little bit of compare and contrast – sustainability education in Australia is focused on White Australians, and the assumption is that the standard message (designed for white Australians) works across communities. I know that’s not true, and that’s evident in many ways just from the different language used in Singapore versus Australia. So that’s a part of the compare and contrast, looking at education campaigns.

But what’s getting missed in both countries because of assumptions? What changes are due to geography versus culture versus the different roles of government? I have so many thoughts and there are so many possibilities and options.

Anyway, I’ve developed this basic survey to help with some data gathering. It’s Singapore-specific, and if you’re Singaporean or have friends are Singaporean or whatever, I would be so grateful if you’d do the survey/email me your thoughts/forward it on to your friends.

Take the survey!

Keep up with what I’m doing day to day on my tumblr

 

Imagining Australia’s Climate Change Dystopia – a 2015 update

In early 2014 I used the CSIRO 2007 climate change projections to develop possibilities for our Science Fiction Climate Change Dystopia, which was published at The Toast. This weekend at Continuum 11: Southern Skies, I talked at length about the science behind our climate change future, and I’ve been invited to speak on a panel at the NSW Writers’ Centre Speculative Fiction Festival in July on this topic, so it seemed timely that I update my essay on imagining Australia’s climate change dystopia.

You can download it: imagining climate change dystopia update 2015.

The Dàn Dàn Miàn of the Apocalypse

Hullo fans! I’ve got a story in the newest Review of Australian Fiction. I’m so delighted to have been invited to contribute by Tansy. Review of Australian Fiction does this fantastic thing where an established writer and an emerging writer write stories for an edition and there’s mentoring and fun times. It’s $2.99AUD to purchase the edition we’re in and it’s totally worth it. The Dàn Dàn Miàn of the Apocalypse is a climate change dystopia wu xia, and Tansy has written about fake magical geek girls. Do eeeet.

Review of Australian Fiction, 14:4

Haw Par Villa: where your soul can never leave though your feet may go on the way

As a child, as an adult, as a being who has come via South-East Asia, I am obsessed with Haw Par Villa, and always will be. Up at The Toast this week, Haw Par Villa: where your soul can never leave though your feet may go on the way. A really personal essay, and one of which I’m very chuffed.

Mum hustles us out the door. “I’ve never been,” she says, and that’s all I know.

There are other people milling around when we arrive. They’re all Chinese, too. This doesn’t strike me until later, but here, now, I don’t question it.

The snake looms over the gate. We move towards the Gates of Hell, and though it is my first glimpse, it is not my last.

Ozten: Emma for Australians

I have been a bit tardy with my website! It’s because I’m programming for Continuum 11, which has eaten every moment I own. So a backlog.

In March, The Toast published Ozten: Emma for Australians. Beautiful Ms Hayley was my partner in this endeavour, as always.

Emma Woodhouse, Ems, bright, skilled, with a happy disposition and a preoccupation with jam and her friends and the Great British Bake Off (and its offshoot, the Great Australian Bake Off, filmed in distant Melbourne). She loves knitting and amigurumi, which her great childhood friend Knightley regrets ever mentioning to her after he returned from a trip to Japan, and reaches 22 with a university degree in modern art and creative writing, and the vexing, tiny knowledge that she’s never won best jam outside of the under-15s at the Swan View Show.

The Song of Changgan / 长干行

I recently did a translation! Bits and pieces of The Song of Changgan / 长干行, by Li Bai (李白)  will appear in Catwoman #37. It’s totally awesome. Thanks to Genevieve for letting me translate, and everyone for buying a copy of Catwoman.

Li Bai (also known as Li Po, don’t panic) was bffs with Du Fu and between the two of them, they wrote basically all the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD) poems you know. About two and a half thousand poems have been attributed between the two of them, so it’s totally okay if you’ve never heard of this one. Wikipedia tells me that “Legend holds that Li drowned when he reached from his boat to grasp the moon’s reflection in the water,” and whether or not that’s true that’s literally the most 盛唐 thing ever.

You can find a preview of this issue over at The Mary Sue; but do yourself a solid and pick it up, because it’s so pretty and I tell you with authority that if you have the same tastes as me, you’re going to love this Catwoman, and this Selina. (I do)

My hair cut straight across my forehead.
I picked flowers, played by the gate.
You came riding on a horse of bamboo,
Around the blue bench, playing with the green plums.
We lived together in Changgan,
The two of us young and without suspicion.
At 14, I was your wife, my shy face not yet open.
I gave in towards the gloomy wall.
Though you called and called, I did not reply.
At 15 I began to smile; I wished our ashes and dirt to be together.
Cherishing, I carried around the words you sent,
I climb the pillar to see you.
At 16, you journeyed far from home,
Through Qutang Gorge and the rapids of Yu.
By May, I wasn’t able to feel;
I heard the sounds of despair.
In front of the door are the footsteps of your delayed departure,
Little by little, the mould grew up and over them.
The moss was thick, it couldn’t be swept away;
The dead leaves of autumn blew in the morning.
In August, the butterflies fell, yellow;
Flew West in pairs to the gardens where grass grows.
The emotions injure me;
Sit and worry about your beautiful old wife.
Sooner or later you will descend through Sanba;
Before then, send a letter home.
We will meet one another, no matter the distance,
All the way to Changfengsha.

妾发初覆额,折花门前剧。
郎骑竹马来,绕床弄青梅。
同居长干里,两小无嫌猜。
十四为君妇,羞颜未尝开。
低头向暗壁,千唤不一回。
十五始展眉,愿同尘与灰。
常存抱柱信,岂上望夫台。
十六君远行,瞿塘滟滪堆。
五月不可触,猿声天上哀。

 Later: maybe I’ll talk about the process of translating on commission for a comic house.