Su-Yee Lin

April 19-22, 2019

Su-Yee Lin is a writer of literary and speculative fiction with degrees from Brown University and the MFA Program at the UMass Amherst. A 2012 Fulbright Fellow to China and a 2014 Center for Fiction Fellow, she’s also been the recipient of grants and residencies from Queens Council on the Arts, Writers Omi, Seoul Art Space, Tofte Lake Center, and Jentel, and was a 2016 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace resident. Her writing has appeared in Day One, Bennington Review, The Offing, Strange Horizons, Electric Literature, Nashville Review,, Interfictions, and other literary journals. Her story “A Flock, A Siege, A Murmuration” published by Bennington Review won a 2019 Pushcart Prize. Born and raised in New York, she is also a freelance proofreader and copy editor.


(…) Heavy rain in the morning but by noon, it had stopped. The clouds are so heavy and thick that I can hear but not see the airplanes that pass overhead. So many more birds here than where I live in Manhattan–the squawking of gulls, the singing of mockingbirds and robins. I ventured out to the small wildlife sanctuaries nearby; there were no real paths but I glimpsed a loon among a fleet of dark-headed ducks, and several Bonaparte’s gulls with their dark heads and white bodies. On the way back to the apartment, a bright red cardinal sang on top of a TV antennae. Since the story I’m working on a bird-centered narrative and I’m currently reading all about bird language, I’m really glad to be here. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is only a short bus ride away; I’m looking forward to going when it’s sunnier tomorrow! I only wish the skies would clear so I could try to get a view of the Lyrid meteor shower…

My second day in the Rockaways dawned clear, with bright blue skies scattered with clouds. Taking a bus to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, we found tree swallows in the dozens swooping around in the wind. The views were across marsh and water, and we learned the odd creaking song made by the red-winged blackbird. Below, my list of the birds I saw here:


There were a few tourists from out of the country, which I found interesting, but it was a gorgeous day to be out. At the visitors center, a woman imitated a bird call for help from a staff member on identifying it. As she sang, his eyes caught mine, a slight grin on his face. He, of course, could not identify the bird she was imitating. What poor voices we humans have. Later, lunch at The Restaurant, a local diner, and a gorgeous sunset across from JFK, where a few locals were fishing. The texture of the beaches there, with skeins of dried saltmarsh cordgrass lining the sand; they’ll sink just a little beneath your feet. (…)

I’m calling the photo above “The American Dream.”