Speak Like an Immigrant (2017)



For the final project of this series, I decided to continue the process of creating poetic visual structures using space.

Some earlier attempts:

Text message style conversation



For the content, I wanted to simulate the experience of speaking English as a foreign language. To maximize the effect, I chose to create the form of a “dialogue” between two parties: one speaking English as a native speaker, the other as a foreigner. I decided to build my program around source texts that are “dramatically American”. For example, a few texts I tried are the U.S. Constitution, the lyrics of Star-Spangled Banner, and the Declaration of Independence.


We the People of the United States
in Order to form a more perfect Union
establish Justice
insure domestic Tranquility
provide for the common defence
promote the general Welfare
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America


I also did some research on some common mistakes people make when speaking English as a foreign language. My poems of the immigrant voices adapted to these rules accordingly.  They include:


  1. the missing of “the”s and “a”s
  2. the mis-use of pronouns, prepositions
  3. the difference between singular and plural forms
  4. the changing between tenses


Below are a few outcomes I enjoyed (source taken from the U.S. Constitution):

Photograph from a performance of the poem at ITP, New York University

Photograph from a performance of the poem at ITP, New York University