There is no titular story in Inez Tan’s debut collection This is Where I Won’t Be Alone. As an American reader, I first considered this title a statement of theme or artistic destination. But if you’re Singaporean, then you know the title as an excerpt from a popular 1998 song called “Home,” written by Dick Lee for the first in a series of songs Singapore’s National Day Parade, celebrated on August 9th of each year.
“When I teach, my analogy is that fiction is a huge tree while poetry is a bonsai. It’s immensely helpful to toggle between working on different scales. Fiction helps me infuse my poems with narrative. Poetry makes my fiction more deft, descriptive, and concise.”
“I do feel (and this helped me persevere, in completing the collection) that stories of trauma endured and resisted by people of color, particularly women of color, have been silenced so many times that there is value in telling these stories, however imperfectly.”
“Half the stories are about people in cities or in urban centers of the West who are only kind of glancingly aware of the anger and the occupation that’s going on around them.”
“Sometimes people choose the safety of seclusion and loneliness over the dangers associated with new experiences. I was interested, in this collection, in examining this kind of choice.”