Minying Huang came to St John’s to read Spanish and Arabic in 2014 and is currently a doctoral student in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages. They are also a Barbican Young Poet, with work published in wildness, Electric Literature and elsewhere. As MCR BME Officer they worked closely with Ethan Joseph to organise race and equality awareness workshops for the MCR and JCR.
Minying Huang.jpg

Over seven years have passed since 2014, when I first came to St John’s College as an undergraduate student reading for a BA in Spanish and Arabic. After graduating in 2018, I left to pursue a yearlong MA in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto before returning once more to begin my DPhil in Medieval and Modern Languages. 

I have occupied many bedrooms in this place, moving from quad to quad, from staircase to staircase. I have met many wonderful people, many of whom I hold dear to me to this day, in this place. This place, I hope, has seen me grow and change – oftentimes in rather messy ways – and come into myself; and it will continue to do so, for a little while longer at least. 

The College gardens, its crocuses in bloom one February, are where I found myself moved to write a poem that would embolden me to write other poems. I would not have called myself a poet back then, but I feel somewhat more at ease with the word now. Oxford is not necessarily a place I associate with ease, but certainly with personal revelation, and for that I am grateful. In this city I have shed and acquired, and acquired and shed, many labels. I am still learning how I want to relate to all the terms that can be applied to my personhood, and if I can do so on my own terms. Port Meadow, where this photo was taken, is where I sometimes walk to clear my head, away from others’ gazes, their questions, their projections.