Kirby Wright was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a graduate of Punahou School in Honolulu and the University of California at San Diego. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Wright has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and is a past recipient of the Ann Fields Poetry Prize, the Academy of American Poets Award, The Browning Society Award for Dramatic Monologue, and Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowships in Poetry and The Novel. BEFORE THE CITY, his first book of poetry, took First Place at the 2003 San Diego Book Awards. Wright is also the author of the companion novels PUNAHOU BLUES and MOLOKA’I NUI AHINA, both set in Hawaii. He was a Visiting Writer at the 2009 International Writers Conference in Hong Kong, where he represented the Pacific Rim region of Hawaii and lectured with poet Gary Snyder. He was a Visiting Writer at the 2010 Martha’s Vineyard Writers Residency in Edgartown, Mass., and also the 2011 Artist in Residence at Milkwood International, Czech Republic.
Song for the Joy Luck Club Waitress of Kowloon Tong
“Sihk faahn,” you giggled, serving shrimp dim sum with congee porridge. In the restaurant you read my fortune: “Yat geuk dap leung syun,” then scrawled name and email on a paper napkin.
You live off Festival Walk on the 60th floor with your parents. “Lang do pow kang,” boasted your mother. We sit on a bench beside the light rail track. Smog unfurls over the mountain like a bone-white flag as your shiny black hair rivers through me. \ Lips taste of peanuts from dragon beard candy. I summon the boy in me hidden for decades. “Ngoh oi nei,” I stammer. Your eyes say you don’t believe.
I search for our future as my train passes.
sihk faahn: bon appetit
yat geuk dap leung syun: 1 foot on 2 boats (beware of cheating in a relationship)
lang do pow kang: so pretty the mirror breaks
ngoh oi neih: I love you