Read our top picks of the year, also featured in the Yearbook:

Fricatives (by Eric Yip)

To speak English properly, Mrs. Lee said, you must learn
the difference between three and free. Three men
escaped from Alcatraz in a rubber raft and drowned
on their way to Angel Island. Hear the difference? Try
this: you fought your way into existence. Better. Look
at this picture. Fresh yellow grains beaten
till their seeds spill. That’s threshing. That’s
submission. You must learn to submit
before you can learn. You must be given
a voice before you can speak. Nobody wants to listen
to a spectacled boy with a Hong Kong accent.
You will have to leave this city, these dark furrows
stuffed full with ancestral bones. Know
that death is thorough. You will speak of bruised bodies
skinnier than yours, force the pen past batons
and blood, call it fresh material for writing. Now
they’re paying attention. You’re lucky enough
to care about how the tongue moves, the seven types
of fricatives, the articulatory function of teeth
sans survival. You will receive a good education
abroad and make your parents proud. You will take
a stranger’s cock in your mouth in the piss-slick stall
of that dingy Cantonese restaurant you love and taste
where you came from, what you were made of all along.
Put some work into it, he growls. C’mon, give me
some bite. Your mother visits one October, tells you
how everyone speaks differently here, more proper.
You smile, nod, bring her to your favourite restaurant,
order dim sum in English. They’re releasing
the students arrested five years ago. Just a tad more
soy sauce please, thank you. The television replays
yesterday on repeat. The teapots are refilled. You spoon
served rice into your mouth, this perfect rice.
Steamed, perfect, white.

Break a butterfly (by Famke Veenstra-Ashmore)

I want to see how you might break

a butterfly on its back


press its wings into pages which crave

your story, which call 


for you peel off its scales like petals. 

A measured voice that


inscribes those glossy lights as if 

born from hand –


we’re sat on the edge of the grate,

those iron bars bending,

and layered, a path we never

travelled now reformed.


We share whispers and a soot mirage:

two empty cans 


rattle with our voices, a chiming arrangement,

ourselves as hands, 


our feet in lines, meet eyes, roaming in circles: 

become pretty 


thoughts streamlined, pretty thoughts on

an amber string 

against a white board, strung along. 

Say I want to be 


your pretty thoughts fettering your neck 

and ankles.

introit (extract from 'Introspection' by Sarah Crockford

The smell of daisies on your breath

and warm silence on my chest,

I paused in laughter.

The tip-toed dreams not kept safe,

shelved among the rubble,


Mountain View

Art in public: Interventions in the city centre

leave me untethered.

You turn seconds into hours,

violence into minutes,

and I breathe at your desire.

There is no virtue in patience.

I’ve learnt to wait no longer

than the time I chose to waste.