“Mixed girl’s Hakka phrasebook.” A Poem by Nina Mingya Powles

From the Collection Magnolia木蘭

August 18, 2022  By Nina Mingya Powles

After Sennah Yee

Article continues below

Phrases I know in Hakka:

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Sit down. It tastes good. Please. Thank you.

Phrases I don’t know in Hakka:

How are you, It’s so good to see you, How did you sleep, It is such a beautiful morning, Did you hear the rain, Did you have any dreams, What would you like to eat, I’m sorry, Can you speak a little slower, Can you say that again, Can you write that down, What does that mean, I can’t speak, I’m sorry, I wish I could speak, How do you say, What do you know, Have you ever, Have you ever been, Have you ever seen, Have you ever felt, How long ago, When was the first time, What was it like, Do you still, Do you remember who, Do you remember the way, Do you remember when you were a child, Do you remember your home, Do you remember leaving, Do you remember the colour, Do you remember the sound of, Do you remember the taste of, Do you remember the smell of, Do you remember the name, Do you remember?

Article continues below


Excerpted from Magnolia木蘭 by Nina Mingya Powles. Published with permission from Tin House. Copyright © 2022 by Nina Mingya Powles.

Nina Mingya Powles
Nina Mingya Powles
Nina Mingya Powles is the author of several poetry zines and chapbooks, including Girls of the Drift and field notes on a downpour, and Tiny Moons, a food memoir. In 2019, she founded Bitter Melon, a poetry press that publishes handmade chapbooks by Asian writers. Her debut collection of essays, Small Bodies of Water, was published by Canongate in the summer of 2021. Magnolia was a finalist for the 2020 Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the 2021 RSL Ondaatje Prize, and the New Zealand Book Awards. Originally from Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand, Nina currently lives in London.

More Story
How White Parents Shirk Their Moral Responsibility to the Common Good Under the Cover of Responsible Parenting Thirteen Ways of Asking the School Question (after Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”) Where...

Become a Lit Hub Supporting Member: Because Books Matter

For the past decade, Literary Hub has brought you the best of the book world for free—no paywall. But our future relies on you. In return for a donation, you’ll get an ad-free reading experience, exclusive editors’ picks, book giveaways, and our coveted Joan Didion Lit Hub tote bag. Most importantly, you’ll keep independent book coverage alive and thriving on the internet.