Body Language – Coming July 12, 2022

Literary / News
Book cover for Body Language, featuring multicolored shapes of people in the background. Text in white: Body Language, Writers on Identity, Physicality, and Making Space for Ourselves. Edited by Nicole Chung and Matt Ortile

I’m thrilled to be part of Body Language, an anthology coming out on July 12, 2022. My essay about swimming and chronic pain is included.

Selected from the archives of Catapult magazine, the essays in Body Language affirm and challenge the personal and political conversations around human bodies from the perspectives of 30 writers diverse in race, age, gender, size, sexuality, health, ability, geography, and class—a brilliant group probing and speaking their own truths about their bodies and identities, refusing to submit to others’ expectations about how their bodies should look, function, and behave.

Featuring essays by A.E. Osworth, Andrea Ruggirello, Aricka Foreman, Austin Gilkeson, Bassey Ikpi, Bryan Washington, Callum Angus, Destiny O. Birdsong, Eloghosa Osunde, Forsyth Harmon, Gabrielle Bellot, Haley Houseman, Hannah Walhout, Jenny Tinghui Zhang, Jess Zimmerman, Kaila Philo, Karissa Chen, Kayla Whaley, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Marcos Gonsalez, Marisa Crane, Melissa Hung, Natalie Lima, Nina Riggs, Rachel Charlene Lewis, Ross Showalter, s.e. smith, Sarah McEachern, Taylor Harris, and Toni Jensen.

Learn more about Body Language and pre-order it here.

What I Wrote in 2020

Illustration of a plate of honey walnut shrimp, with a few hands on a blue table, one holding a cup of tea. There are yellow chopsticks and a logo that says, "Chinatown USA"

2020 was not an easy year, so each one of these pieces of writing is a little victory.

I started the year off thinking I had cleverly tricked myself into writing on a regular schedule because I convinced Catapult to give me a column. It’s called Pain in the Brain and it’s about my chronic headache.

For the first column installment, I wrote about the meaning of keeping a headache diary. In the second, I wrote about my uneasy relationship with a body in constant pain and learning a meditation called the body scan. In the third, I wrote about weathering chronic pain in the pandemic without the one thing that consistently helps me, swimming. It’s also about how chronic pain has given me a kind of resilience.

For the San Francisco Chronicle, I wrote about a place I love, San Francisco Chinatown, and how the community is faring in the pandemic.

I also contributed to Resy’s Chinatown USA series with an essay about my love of honey walnut shrimp.

Lastly, my flash nonfiction piece about aunties at the YMCA found a home at Jellyfish Review. I think about the aunties often. I hope they’re doing OK.

Artwork by Jeannie Phan for Resy

KSW Presents | San Francisco | Feb 7, 2020

KSW Presents: Meng Jin and Mimi Lok. The books Little Gods by Meng Jin and Last of Her Name by Mimi Lok on a white surface. There are small yellow flowers in a clear bud vase.

Thrilled to be reading at Kearny Street Workshop in celebration of two new books: Little Gods by Meng Jin and Last of Her Name by Mimi Lok. This reading honors powerful stories about Asian women that bend time and place in their journeys to seek answers and connection in the aftermath of grief, displacement, and diaspora.

Friday, February 7, 2020, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
KSW Presents: Meng Jin & Mimi Lok
Arc Gallery & Studios, 1246 Folsom Street, San Francisco
$8 – $20 | Get tickets

Readings by: Emily Yamauchi, Melissa Hung, Rowena Singer, Grace Li, Sheri Park, C.E. Shue, and Lia Dun.

Featured artists: Meng Jin, Mimi Lok

Curated by: Michelle Lin and Kazumi Chin

What I Wrote in 2019

Illustration of a woman with long dark hair resting her chin in a hand. Behind here are lanterns and clothes hanging on clotheslines.

It has been a goal of mine to be published in Longreads, and it happened this year! I wrote a personal essay about my relationship to Cantonese, my mother, and Chinatown.

For the San Francisco Chronicle, I wrote about the myth of authentic cuisines and how Tex-Mex is my comfort food.

For Pacific Standard (RIP), I wrote about how the People’s Kitchen Collective preserves cultural memory and carries on the legacy of the Black Panthers’ Free Breakfast program through free community meals.

It was also my pleasure to interview two authors: Tayari Jones and Esmé Weijun Wang.

Artwork by Olivia Waller for Longreads

Fall 2019 Events

An installation made of bamboo by Tanabe Chikuunsai at the Asian Art Museum

August 31, 2019, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Interdisciplinary Writers Lab 2019 Fellows Reading
Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco
Free with museum admission, RSVP at Facebook or Eventbrite

2019 Instructors: Tongo Eisen-Martin, Elaine Castillo, Marga Gomez
2019 Fellows: Amber Butts, Cesar Cadabes, K-Ming Chang, Paula Mirando, Naihobe Gonzalez, Melissa Hung, Sarah Matsui, Jenna Peng, Damali Robertson, Dena Rod, Golda Sargento, Karthikraman Sethuraman, Maya Sisneros, Raia Small, J. Xiang

October 19, 2019, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Wabi-Sabi, 888 Valencia, San Francisco
Free, Details here

Potluck Club: Women writers of color reflect on the idea of home.
Featuring: Grace Hwang Lynch, Michelle Villegas Threadgould, Shikha Malaviya, Sabina Khan-Ibarra, Melissa Hung, and Jenn Chen

October 24, 2019, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. 
Five Ruby Readings: Works in Progress by San Francisco Arts Commission Grantees
The Ruby, San Francisco
Free, RSVP required

Join Ruby writers and San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Commission grantees Celeste Chan, Melissa Hung, Shruti Swamy, Virgie Tovar and Michelle Wallace for an intimate reading of works in progress. 

Image is of Connection: Tanabe Chikuunsai IV at the Asian Art Museum

What I Wrote in 2018

Journalism / News
A cooked fish on a platter with cucumber slices artfully arranged around it. A hand holds a jar of seasoning over the platter. Photo by Michelle Min.

A look back on some of the things I wrote this year:

I wrote about my grandparents’ immigration story (and their grocery store that sustained our family) for Southwest the Magazine.

Shondaland let me write about various obsessions, such as why I have a soft spot for the Filet-O-Fish, the only fast food my immigrant family would eat. I also wrote about the calming experience that is shopping at Muji and how pajamas help me feel like I’m properly adulting.

Journalism-wise, some of my favorite stories were food-related. The new publication Popula published my story about a local farmer, culture, and climate change.

For the San Francisco Chronicle, I wrote about three immigrants who opened up a hole-in-the-wall Uighur restaurant. They way they put everything into their business reminded me of my grandparents putting everything into theirs.

I also wrote about Chef Chu’s in Silicon Valley, how it began as a take-out counter and became the power-lunch establishment it is today. The story, for Eater, touches on the migration of Chinese food in America and ideas of authenticity.

Not a fun story, but an important one that ran in Pacific Standard: How Airbnb is contributing to gentrification in Boston Chinatown.

Another Chinatown story, this one in San Francisco. I learned so much about the history of the Chinese New Year parade and how it’s a story of immigrant survival in the face of discrimination and racism.

I also interviewed novelist Celeste Ng, director Jon M. Chu, journalist Bernice Yeung, and Hollywood legend Nancy Kwan.

Photo by Michelle Min

Artist Talk | San Francisco | Oct 30, 2018

Image of a dimensional artwork with a multicolor base, and figures of people standing on it. There is also a bunny sculpture and some gold-colored wall-like objects.

I’m reading at a short and sweet event with artist Headphone Record this upcoming Tuesday.

Artist Talk
Tuesday, October 30, 2018, 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Arion Press, 1802 Hays Street, San Francisco. It’s in the Presidio near the 14th Ave and Lake street Presidio entrance.

Two San Francisco artists will present on their recent works on the theme of persisting. Nathalie Roland, a visual artist, will talk about works in progress and her collaboration with other artists as a strategy for surviving in a changing city. Writer Melissa Hung will read from her essay “To Swim is to Endure.”

Kindly RSVP by October 29.

Update: Thanks to everyone who came to see us! Nathalie has added notes and links from the talk to her website.

Image by Nathalie Roland

Lit Crawl San Francisco | Oct 20, 2018

A program for Litquake 2018 next to a cup of coffee and a plate with a cookie. The cover of the guide has an illustration of 5 people, who appear to be women, with books

I’ll be reading inside a vintage clothing store at Lit Crawl San Francisco, the massive one-night literary crawl through the city’s Mission District. Lit Crawl is part of the weeklong Litquake festival, which starts on October 11.

Stirring the Pot: Women writers of color reflect on food, migration, and culture.

Saturday, October 20, 2018, 5 – 6 p.m.
Wallflower, 1176 Valencia St, San Francisco

Featuring: Melissa Hung, Grace Hwang Lynch, Sabina Khan-Ibarra, Shikha Saklani Malaviya, Michelle Villegas Threadgould, and Thy Tran

Hosted by Jennifer Ng

Free admission