8 Questions with Daryl Qilin Yam

Daryl Qilin Yam is the author of Kappa Quartethttp://www.darylqilinyam.com/

Photo credit: Mick Pilgrim


Which talent would you most like to have?

I would always like to be a better writer. But there are so many things I’d like to be good at too: I’d like to be more sensitive, more compassionate, more attuned to my own senses. I’d like to be better equipped to tell the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, sane and insane. I’d like to know what it takes to collapse those dichotomies, and to overthrow capitalism, and identify who is and isn’t going to stay in my life. I’d like to be a better reader too. I’d like to be more nimble, a better cook, more adaptable at learning new languages and containing new repositories of knowledge. I would like to be more of a meditator (like practicing yoga, I don’t meditate, and would probably be very bad at it, but do I love the idea) and less of a lightweight.


What is your most treasured possession?

I am an accumulator of things, I love clutter, which is probably the side-effect of being a lover of Ghibli films. On the shelf I have above my study desk I have Max Richter’s Blue Notebooks on vinyl, a large photograph of myself riding a tricycle as a kid (it is green and purple in colour, with large yellow ribbons on the handles), and a copy of Yoneda Kou’s manga Doushitemo Furetakunai; still on my to-read shelf are three books from the Fitzcarraldo Editions catalogue, three issues of Sandman, four issues of BOMB magazine and two issues of The Happy Reader; in my toilet I have the Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalising Mask Ex (from Joshua Ip’s wife on my 29th birthday), The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum and the Le Labo Gaiac 10 fragrance (a gift to myself in December 2018), of which I only have a fifth remaining, and will therefore only ever use on rare occasions from now on.

At the bottom of my closet, next to my university transcripts and insurance premiums, is a Hollywood Polo Country Club watch, my one and only gift from my late maternal grandfather, given to me on my 18th birthday. It was a watch of his, which he had passed on to me; when he realised my wrist was still too small for it, he spent the next hour silently removing the brackets from the metal band.

I’ve never worn the watch, and probably never will, out of an irrational fear of losing it by accident. The battery has also run out as well, and so the hands of the watch now forever says: 3:45.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sipping an iced black coffee while it’s raining outside. The time, no doubt: 3:45pm. (Alternatively, at 3.45am: fast asleep in a completely blacked-out room, locked in a fervent dream with my lover snoring beside me, the both of us with a leg each out of the blanket.)


What is your motto?

The Y2K queer version of “The Best Is Yet To Be”: “It Gets Better.”


How would you like to die?

Completely happy. And also with a fade-out, like at the end of the movie, with strings playing in the background; during the rolling credits, we’d get to see the names of the people who’ve had a hand in how I lived my life, and how.


If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

To quote an untitled poem I wrote in 2016, which still stands to this day:

In my next life I want to be
a goldfish or a tree;
I want to live to three hundred
but I don’t want to be lonely either

If Roy Cohn said he wants to be an octopus
then I want to be a net; if Jen says
she is Switzerland, then I say
I am the moon.


What do you consider the most overrated virtue?



What is your current state of mind?

A stick of incense burning; the ash and dust settling on a tray; the fragrance that is left in a room.