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Laugh, but Do Not Lose

A Poem by Elly Hong

You laugh when I say ‘bath’ ~~ stumbling between a  

north/south pronunciation. My throat flaps as I  

make a conscious decision to say glass. 

(denying the queen her english)  


I was raised by immigrant parents in the North of England, a 

strange existence to be the odd minority in a sea of english children. 

You laugh when I say ‘bath’ ~~ stumbling and straining between a  


Need to be the same or grasp onto my northernness a 

little more. I’ve heard ‘you sound like a Londoner’ so I cling to my I- 

dentity, making a conscious decision to say glass. 

(denying the queen her english)  


I remember how I couldn’t grasp the laughter 

of my history class when my answer was poo-er instead of poor. I 

laugh when I say ‘bath’ ~~ stumbling between a  


shadow of a yorkshire lass and the outline of a 

uni student studying in what her friends would describe 

the north’. I will make a conscious decision to say glass. 

          (denying the queen her english)  


I will always choose to be laughed at than to lose what I have, 

You laugh when I say ‘bath’ ~~ stumbling between a  

want -irrational as it is- to be, the majority. I  

still make the conscious decision to say glass, bath, grass, Ask 

me if I care? 

    (I am denying the queen her english.)

A Statement by Elly Hong on her process

I chose to write this poem to explore my identity as a girl who grew up in a small town to the west of Hull. My family was one of the only families of an ethnic minority. Because of this, I grew up ignorant of my culture and ethnicity, almost ashamed of my difference. I distinctly remember in Year 3 when we were learning about the Victorian era and I pronounced the word ‘poor’ wrong, much to the amusement of my classmates. I sat, cheeks burning, surrounded by children laughing at me. I hated being different. Pronouncing words differently. However, throughout secondary school, I saw the pride and passion my friends had for their culture. This struck me. I realised the strength in being different. So, I learnt to appreciate and cherish my culture instead of rejecting it. 


Since coming to university, I have been mocked for having a northern accent and for pronouncing words like glass with a short ‘a’ sound instead of a long one. Now, I’ve learnt not to care. My accent isn’t something to be embarrassed about.


In this poem, I focused on using the form of a villanelle not as a restraint, but rather as a way to play with the constraints of a villanelle’s rules and distort them to reflect my refusal to fit the ‘norm’. I use the phrase ‘denying the queen her english’ as it emphasises this refusal to conform. Instead, empowering others to not be afraid of being different. In fact, through growing up, I’ve learnt to celebrate being unique and to embrace my differences for what they are.

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