Saturday, May 11, 2024

“The Potato Singer” • by Ian Li

Johnny knew he didn’t have the voice for it, but he dreamt of becoming a singer nonetheless. 

St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s deemed his voice unsuited for hymns, and the Albatross Bar didn’t do much live music (or that was their excuse when he asked anyway).

His mum even forbade him from singing at home, claiming it disturbed the peace. “Why not pick a normal occupation?” she grumbled. “Potato farmer? Cattle farmer? Sheep farmer? Chicken farmer?”

Since no one appreciated his singing, he ventured all the way to The Patches to let it out. Even cows and chickens he encountered fled upon hearing his voice. But the potatoes didn’t. All summer, he’d lean against the rocky walls of his family’s fields, belting out song after song.

At harvest time, his family discovered their potatoes grew thrice as big as everyone else’s. When others learned of Johnny’s contribution, everyone invited him to sing to their potatoes.

Thereafter, islanders and tourists alike visited The Patches to hear the legendary Potato Singer of Tristan da Cunha.


Ian Li (he/him) writes speculative fiction and poetry and lives in Toronto. Formerly an economist and consultant, he loves spreadsheets, statistical curiosities, and brain teasers. Find his writing in print or forthcoming in Solarpunk Magazine, Radon Journal, and Flame Tree Press, as well as at

His most recent appearances in our pages were “Summit, in Memory” and “Hosting a Tempest.”




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