Himalaya: Listen. Learn. Grow.
Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People)
Episode 81 is part two in the story of Commonplace’s March 2019 journey to Taiwan. For the first time in Commonplace herstory, the episode is not hosted by Rachel Zucker and is, instead, guided by Commonplace producer and social media director, Doreen Wang. The episode opens with a brief history of Taiwan and is followed by conversations that Rachel and Doreen had with two highly-regarded independent bookstores in the Taipei area.
At Brilliant Time Bookstore, they speak with Mr. CHANG Cheng about viewing Taiwan in relationship to its neighboring Southeast Asian countries and in relationship to the many Southeast Asians living inside of Taiwan. They also speak about Mr. CHANG’s lifelong dedication toward building a fair and just society in Taiwan, no matter the island’s future.
At FemBooks, Rachel and Doreen speak with its manager LI Xiumei (Sophie) and KANG Min Jay, a professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Building and Planning. Both talk about how they got involved with FemBooks—Sophie, because of her prior history working on gender issues, and Professor Kang, because of his scholarship and activism on public spaces and realizing the unique position of independent bookstores as “semi-public spaces.” They also talk about the influence of Virginia Woolf and the importance of naming (instead of being named).
Note: Capitalized text indicates family names (which precede given names in the Chinese language).
Doreen Wang has been the voice, mind and heart behind Commonplace’s social media since September 2018. Doreen is a writer—poetry and creative nonfiction, among other genres—and longtime NGO worker who now manages a youth leadership program for the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, and leads food tours in Chengdu. Doreen received a poetry fellowship from Kundiman as well as a Pushcart Prize nomination for her work. You can find her work in On She Goes, Angel’s Flight: Literary West, and Racist Sandwich podcast. An inaugural participant of Spotify’s Sound Up Bootcamp for Women of Color Podcasters, Doreen is working on a writing and audio documentary where she and her grandmother talk story about how the borders of China-Taiwan and U.S.-Mexico have shaped their lives.