8 Questions with Yeow Kai Chai

Yeow Kai Chai is a poet, journalist and editor.


Which talent would you most like to have?

I’d love to be a musician. I’m thinking of people like Caetano Veloso, Sufjan Stevens, Joanna Newsom, Dan Bejar (Destroyer), Nick Cave, Nicolas Jaar, Björk, and Bill Callahan whose works are incredible worlds unto their own. I mean, as a writer, I use words. As a musician, you get to use sounds too – voices, musical instruments, found sounds, loops – and how immediately immersive and Sensurround they can be. With words, you need to work harder.


What is your most treasured possession?

The knowledge that my parents, who have passed on, loved me, unconditionally.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness is knowing that it’s fleeting, flawed, and tinged with mortality. It could be the absolute bliss one feels after a stunning film screening, a brilliant concert, or a wonderful afternoon spent with close ones. I remember a line from a poem by the very wise late American poet Jack Gilbert, “Love lasts by not lasting.”


What is your motto?

Never repeat yourself.


How would you like to die?

Quietly, painlessly, with a smile on my face – but when I’m done.


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

Some kind of ephemeral consciousness which can move through worlds and ages, and absorbs and learns, and gives back as much as possible.


What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Perfect happiness.


What is your current state of mind?

In between worlds.