May Chong’s poem “Social Media Manticore” appears in Issue 12 of Mithila Review available at GumroadAmazon (Kindle) & Apple iBooks stores.

Please tell us briefly about your work and background.

I’m a Chinese Malaysian who writes mostly poetry, with a smattering of speculative fiction. My day job is spent editing and writing digital content for advertising and branding purposes, so I used to joke writing spec and poetry gave me an opportunity to come back just a little bit closer to the truth. I also do some spoken word, which allows me to be the gigantic ham of my dreams.

When did you start writing fiction/poetry?

Even as a child I always loved coming up with stories. I wrote my fair share of emotional teenage poetry (and scared some teachers), then came back to the form to cope with work stresses. I started aiming at publication from 2015, when I sent in a short story for a local anthology call. And now here we are!

What is your poem “Social Media Manticore” which appears in Issue 12 of Mithila Review about?

It’s about a manticore saddled with managing the scorching mess of a social media page her boss has managed to get himself involved in, from the viewpoint of her sympathetic (non-human) partner.

What was the inspiration behind this poem?

“Social Media Manticore” was inspired by my experiences as a young, anxious social media manager working solo on a big project. Dealing with non-stop comments and questions 7 days a week very efficiently poisoned, my health, social life and relationships. 0/10, would not recommend.

The poem was born some time in 2015/16, so as I came back to it, I melded what I was doing at the time with what I and my colleagues ended up doing on the job as the field ad the scope of our work evolved.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this poem?

I always have problems deciding where to put those linebreaks! But there was also the challenge of balancing mythological/cultural references with the details of work that people might not think about much, beyond thinking any random intern can do it. Nevertheless I hope the readers enjoy the piece.

This poem was first written before Trump became president, before we found out how deep Cambridge Analytica was embroiled in other countries’ elections, before Malaysia elected a new government, before a lot of things. There’s a lot it doesn’t cover. Social media remains a multiple-edged blade for so many of us, so the least we can do is make it a little less like hell. Deplatform hate, uplift love, and please remember: behind your fave brand or username there is an actual person, probably doing the best they can under current circumstances, also probably not a lion-scorpion hybrid with multiple rows.

What are you working on these days?

I’m getting chapbook manuscripts out, so when someone asks if I have a book of my own I can finally say yes!

What are you reading these days?

I’m reading/re-reading Building A StoryBrand (Donald Miller) for the day job, but my TBR list also has The True Queen (Zen Cho) and Sergius Seeks Bacchus (Norman Erikson Pasaribu) on it.

Any upcoming publications?

Can never quite tell when to announce these things… but I do have more work coming out in December/January, which you’ll find me trumpeting joyfully about on my Twitter as it goes live. Two poems about fish, one… something-or-other about the year 2020.

You can find Chong’s poem “Social Media Manticore” in Issue 12 of Mithila Review available at GumroadAmazon (Kindle)Apple (iBooks)B&NKobo & Weightless Books. You can also read it here.  

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May Chong
May Chong is a Malaysian poet/spec writer who writes to tackle the heart and tickle the soul. Her verse has been published in Strange Horizons, LONTAR #10, Apparition Lit, and Multiverse: an international science fiction poetry anthology. She tweets about writing and weird insect encounters at @maysays.
Salik Shah
Salik Shah is the founding editor and publisher of Mithila Review. You can find him on Twitter: @Salik Website: