this peculiar trait of being human (and other euphemisms for love) : a conversation with Yi Nuo Cheng

(courtesy of Yi Nuo)

I’m sure at some point, we’ve all had the urge to write our own book. But for most of us, trying to actually start that process usually puts a damper on that aspiration. However, meet the girl who’s braved this daunting task.

This is Yi Nuo, a grade 11 student at Sir Winston Churchill High School. Between conquering partial IB, maintaining her own blog (here!), being a flautist, and keeping the Instagram aesthetic alive, she has published her own book! Clocking in at over 150 pages, and over 90 poems, it is a legitimate, published book. Whoa.

(courtesy of Yi Nuo)

Fun little backstory for everyone: I’ve actually known (/known of) Yi Nuo since I was in grade four. Throw it back to elementary days, and you will find both of us at Hillhurst, me, an awkward 10-year-old, playing Temple Run, and admiring the super cool sixth graders, which is where Yi Nuo comes in. Admittedly, I was way too shy, and quite frankly, lame to actually talk to her, or any of the sixth graders. But luckily, I was quite the advanced internet sleuth and followed her Instagram. About five years later of mutual appreciation, I saw her post about how she had written a book. Finally given an excuse to meet her, I recently had the chance to sit down with the author herself to talk a little bit about the book “this peculiar trait of being human (and other euphemisms for love)“, and purchased a copy for myself! Captivating, and genuine, it was fantastic to meet a real-life author, and fellow student to talk about her unique endeavour. Here’s some of her insight:

Although Yi Nuo dabbled in poetry for quite some time before, her passion was really sparked when she joined her school’s slam poetry team last spring and went to a provincial tournament. Drawing inspiration from reading, and listening to other poets, and poems (her favourite being “Here”, written by Aman K Batra!), she continued to write, and compile little poems here and there. And then in summer 2017, she decided to check an item off her bucket list, and put them into a book!

(courtesy of Yi Nuo)

poetry and prose for aching hearts and hungry souls. this peculiar trait of being human (and other euphemisms for love) explores love, friendship, insecurity, beauty, identity, and purpose. a profound and raw confession is housed in each page. it is a journal of fears and passions alike; vulnerable, stirring, and empowering. a collection that needs no voice to speak volumes.

With the help of advice columns and self-publishing, she was able to get it published through CreateSpace. It was a bit of a walk in the dark, but she figured out how to do everything by herself. Being a visual artist as well, the illustrations accompanying poems are all original, cover photo included.

Everything in the book except for the barcode is done by me

While dealing with the stresses of high school, Yi Nuo sees poetry in particular as a creative outlet, being able to let out streams of consciousness, and make them into something productive.

You can really turn your negative emotions into a form of art. So even when you’re not having the best day, you’re able to look back and say : “Well at least I got a good poem out of it.” And then when you emerge from the other side, you get to relive what you were feeling, and reflect.

a little sneak peak (courtesy of Yi Nuo)

But apart from being a creative channel, through poetry, Yi Nuo’s also been able to explore, and develop her own style, playing with stylistic choices, capitalization, and different spacing. But further from visual aspects, she’s seen her poetry grow from a very personal expression that only she would understand, to incorporate very universal themes.

Even so, her poetry is so unique in that she writes for a demographic that isn’t often addressed. In response to the adults who brush off work penned by younger individuals, she says: Maybe I can’t write poetry that’s for adults, or people who don’t share my life experiences. But I can express the experiences of people my own age. And a lot of the people who buy my book are people I know, who tell me that it really strikes a chord with them because they can relate to what I’m talking about.”

(courtesy of Yi Nuo)

Perhaps even more impressive to me was Yi Nuo’s blog, which she has run by herself successfully for quite some time now. When asked about how she continues to find inspiration, she told me : “What I really try to do is find inspiration everywhere, whether it’s watching poetry, reading books, blog posts, or drawing from people who matter to me, and exploring their stories. Never stop looking for inspiration. And have trust that it will always come back to you”

Surprisingly enough, although publishing a novel with a publication house is a major life goal, Yi Nuo’s also interested in the business side of things, specifically marketing: appealing, and relating to audiences. So as a little challenge, I asked for her best impromptu sales pitch for her book:

“this peculiar trait of being human and other euphemisms for love is an exploration of one person’s take on life. Although I haven’t been on this earth for a very long time, I like to think that I have learned a couple things here and there, but certainly have a lot of questions about life, and love. So if you want to read about my experiences, share some questions with me, or just read something that explores that, and opens up new questions for you, have a look!”

More info on how to purchase her book here!

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