Guest Editor Chua Jun Yan, tells us about his poet-rebel hero and why he has chosen rebellion as the next theme for YM: Poetry.
I am Jun Yan, guest editor of the next issue of YM: Poetry – an ezine for young poets. The theme for this issue is “Rebel”. I chose “Rebel” because it’s a persona we all take up at some point in our lives. We all know one. Yet the rebel also has a bigger impact on the course of history and the world at large.
My personal rebel poet hero is Maya Angelou, a prominent advocate of racial and gender equality in the United States. I was 14 when I first came across these lines from her:
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
Despite the generational and geographical gap between us, her words spoke to me as much as they would have to her contemporaries. The time and place might be different, but the sentiments are shared: the drive of destiny to bring down entrenched injustices, and the sense of liberation from overthrowing the established order. Whenever I have felt alone in my little rebellions, Maya has been there.
Submit your poems to YM: Rebel
From the Arab Spring to the Occupy Wall Street movement, rebels have dominated the headlines of the past year. Nothing is new. Guy Fawkes’s gunpowder plot might have failed in 1605, but his legend is told to schoolchildren four centuries on. It took Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a bus to force the issue of segregation in the American South into the spotlight. Similarly, Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison followed the suffragette motto of “deeds not words” to fight for women’s right to vote.
In the annals of mythology, rebels enjoy cult status. In the Christian tradition, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden after disobeying God by eating the forbidden fruit. To steal fire for humanity, Prometheus defied Zeus, with painful consequences.
But the rebel does not always have to be larger than life. When was the last time you threw a tantrum? Ran away from home? Wore a hoodie? Broke a school rule? Inside each of us lies a hidden rebel, scrambling to break out.
This issue, we ask you to consider what it means to be a rebel of any kind. We welcome poems, reviews, articles and artwork on all aspects of being a rebel: the causes, the struggles, the triumphs and the anguish.
Chua Jun Yan is 17 and lives on the tropical island of Singapore where he is currently pursuing his A Levels. He was a Commended Foyle Young Poet of the Year in 2009. His works have appeared in publications such as Nexus’s pamphlet, ‘Your Singapore Through Their Eyes’ (Singapore, 2009), and the Sampad anthology, ‘Journeys’ (Birmingham, 2010). Beyond his literary pursuits, Jun Yan is an avid debater and organises speech-related community projects.