The first reading I ever gave was at Basement Workshop
The poet talks with Eileen Tabios about his writing process and how “language can be a thicket and brambles”
“It’s not really about trauma—it’s about what it means to resurrect out of that.”
In the gentle pull of the first light, / we hobble to stand our bodies / ours and wanting
“I wanted to turn to actual living language—and reveal, through poetry, the contradictions or erasures or sometimes comic possibilities imposed by different texts.”
It can’t with words on paper / It can’t with words / It can’t
You hear Mama tell you / that you must be waiting for her to die to live your life.
My whole life I heard her sing. / I never heard her speak.
While I was doing witness work around violence, I was also always living in a shadow space where I could be safer, where I could be protected, where I was known, where I could not be misread
When baba worked for the Oil Co. they allotted him / a farm house
I’m severe I’m severed I’m savior—
I stand before you, though, O Allah, the daughter // to Abraham’s father. Here is my sacrifice: / hold him close, as You did with Ismael.
Poems and translations by Lan Anh, Thu Uyên, Thùy Dương, and Nhi Đàm
But the children are frolicking inside the palace of their mother’s empty stomach. They can’t say whether it’s day or night.
My country is broken, / Mountains and rivers remain / In the city, grasses / Spread their roots
my fingers still remember the days-old-stubbles
how much time / does the wind give us? / do we still run? / who sends the wind? / does it carry the bombs? / or do they come after?
A girl labelled comfort / wartime ammunition / recalled her father who built / her home on / a graveyard
The witch was not thorough / with her magic
tell me you knew all along & you reached for / the heavens because you were happy.
I’m starting to believe in small magics like / astrology and sudden rain
we inherited sickly / roots our ancestors couldn’t plant / deep enough to / grow
It’s funny how ppl were saying that the peaches in Parasite / were some serious motif & symbolism of prosperity’s toxicity
I stow away the sentences in which there is no you in my drawer right after writing them I remember the time when I emptied the bottom of my drawer for you There I found stuff like a key that became useless forever
“For Korean women writers, for whatever kind of poetry they want to write, I think this country has excellent soil for growing in any direction you want.”
Love letters spill / down the narrow stairs as I leave. I think I would like nothing / to miss her like I do, hence this tenderness, hence my hands smudging / myself.
i love you / too much / let us reason in dissonance / play mozart on mondays / barefoot & / the wisteria i grow wild / the hands i keep sharp—
One day you’ll be married. May Allah make your naseeb good. May you find a man who prays and follows the deen.
somewhere a tiger loosens its throat or so she imagines / the rubber trees looming she lifts her paring knife to the day’s throat
They say / the faithful go to God with the love // of a child, they say the soul sees everything / without eyes. I am trying to understand // my life.
We continue in our bookmarks series with works that sing, dissolve boundaries, and gather voices together
Back then I was committed to the color blue, felt moved to paint my walls, nails, furniture the same shade of teal. Now my body swells at the window with casual longing.
At birth, my mother recites my ba zi / to a monk, and like all good daughters, // I do not ask. How can a mother / help but lead her daughter // Astray?
Our Lady of Scapulars, we carry you around / like credentials, like disgrace, we suffer
this insufferable heat and your packaged spirit’s / smothered by the reek of our sweat—how much closer / must we be?
He says that every winter was a cheap metal spoon// bent backward in a steaming pile of rice. So much of what he says is practice // for another language.
We ride knife-cut roads across this back / of continent to the prairie’s torn edge / to a place where shadows limn loess
I turn the page in this war criminals diary because I / can’t stop
& on the drive to LAX /when I ask you not to cry this time, you look / at me with reverence as if to say, what came from me / is so much more than I am
Perhaps it is now the other way around, / and I have become an almost-perfect lover, / caring little that the Gods love poets less.
everything is/air/is/argument (the chorus said)/as I slept/in the desert//
service on the cell went dead/I said/jocasta always hangs herself
At fifteen Nani shot a / tiger. A big gun in a girl’s hands; I’ve seen the picture.
My family has legends in the form of a spider’s legs.
At this / moment there are more than two dozen / revolutions occurring around the globe in / Chile, Lebanon, Hong Kong, France, Sudan.
When my harabeoji died / last spring I thought I’d move to California, convert / to Catholicism, kneel beside my halmeoni at early Mass // become student of those hundred and three / Korean saints though I can’t name more than one.
In our home we brewed ginseng tea to battle unnamed / diseases. We held hands with health. I was never good at it, of course: / always too bitter, oversteeped. Always the universe mocking me / from the sidelines.
On the screen, an old man is dying in his bed. / The adults are talking / loudly, two feet away from each other. / From their voices, I can tell their hatred / for that old man, a thin blanket to his chin.
Older now, the sparrow God / gave my grandmother in place /of succulence.
The author of Ghost Of on the importance of constraint, the page as a field, and facilitating findings among her students
Perhaps for you a minefield’s / just a field, for you a mother tongue / is not some rune that breaks your mouth / and heart.
the heft and cleave required / of living / with a nation on your skin / under the broken yellow toenail / of the forgotten
She waned in the neighborhood of my first love, like some sounds that turn mute in/another language.
Your knuckles are furred like my father’s, / balling his socks one inside the other / and tossing them on the bed.
What I want / is to be unspooled from my navel until / not even my body can keep me. Wildened to morsels / of mortal sound, I crave only the crown of being unseen.
What tense do we belong in? I prolong a period / into a comma. I want to revive we’s we’ve archived. / I would let Time drown like a sparrow in a lake
脱脂牛奶 …..………………. $1.00 / mama am i skeleton enough mama am i skeleton enough .………. 0.25 mile
What is the legacy of the People’s Republic of China?
I reenter my body as a highway, then a Monday, then a demo / of a pop song that never made it to the surface.
In a guest laden living room to the side in a corner, / I tried to wear a coat like skin, // And in that moment, that precise moment, / I’m asked, “Are you Tibetan?”
the manner / in which the oaks nod to me it’s funny / I swear there are no magnets / lining my boots / maybe just a few nickels
Don’t you know my face? Didn’t you / break it open? Being beautiful, it’s no crime.
America swallowed my parents / spit out skeletons / Waleed became Bill / the Clintons stretched / their skinny vowels / over my father’s father’s father’s name
My friend uses words I know: / desert, rainfall, homeland. Speaks with / dead wet sea eyes of a house where her / grandfather found peace.
my eyes are closed / & i won’t lose my temper, want a world where my people aren’t background, refuse / to be an extra in someone else’s weekend again.
I grow up: I never learn / Chinese: I never go to China: we eat until our stomachs peached: we grow peaches on trees and they are moneyed: we bury / their hearts in the dirt: fullness is 貴 is: priceless:
치마를 까뒤집던 꽃들이 / 태양의 먼 어깨 위로 투신한다 / 나무들이 입던 속옷을 벗어 깃발처럼 흔드는 정원에서
I dress devotedly. I devote my time to smoothing the knots in my hair. / I lace rum and cokes with devotion. My aloe vera plant sings devotion.
I loved them all and everything / they thought about so much and I was out / of my mind by then, not with grief or disgust / but with beauty
I am thinking / Of a burnt cathedral, which / Has nothing to do with actual death.
her story—a bone-white line across her throat. / Given enough time, she says, are all stories / not ghost stories?
Is not house, not kitchen, not ceiling. Spanish chandeliers as old and intricate as iron.
I am // just trying to sleep. To feed. To fill / myself and grow larger from it.
What / saint-kissed relics shall I take with me, what shall serve as capstones for the / humble churches I’ll build in the parking lots of the American dream?
O whose chant do I hear in these halls recalling my deeds, or my debts, the structure / of the cancer room, a storm that once wiped Laos clean of sin a thousand years ago?
the / tangibility of absence: to put a ruined keep inside of someone / until it becomes skin
When I tell you that she’s a witch, I’m not saying like it’s a bad thing. What I / mean is that one time she went to see / someone and said that he was going to die and then he died / the Friday after.
no matter how desperately the world begs / for my blood / I still refuse to die. in this body, survival / is an outlier
But tonight, the horses, there, / down among the beeches, know when I begin to yield / and do not move until I do, turning their heads / in the direction of my voice.
You can describe a place / without knowing it. / At recess in March I choked / because the air tasted like fertilizer. / What’s the difference / between breathing a place / and being suffocated by it?
I pulled the comforters out after. / You had sweat the bed; the room bloomed with / your sweetness. I thought / you can know / somebody for a long while and not know / their scent.
I was the writer in my life / and where did it get me / is not a line from an Army manual
hong kong a neon neckline, long hair glittering / with ship-lights, crystal balls, storm velvets. / it’s her life, yet I had come, and grown / my hair, and happened upon the eastern sun / like a moon.
Now, I’m lost in the woods thinking of Noy. / Is she still in Seattle? Does she has her pastry shop? / In Minnesota, I gather what is gone, capturing a spirit.
On the 150th anniversary of the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad, Paisley Rekdal revisits the legacy of the Chinese railroad workers who reshaped the American West.
Instinctively, one / wants to be the native plant in its ancestral loam, / one wants a resistance to the sun, to shun full rainfall / for a flash of morning dew, or at very least, grow / some throwaway limbs.
I practiced my Urdu in the bathroom with you / as I sat in the tub; only so long before an American / mermaid can stand without floating on into sea foam.
I could become / a better citizen, but then who would be left to / speak for me?
three Novembers ago we found a comic that told us / if you want to say thank you, don’t say sorry. / I have held my breath ever since.
What do you like he tries again / and I think of landscape, the early fog / ridden hills of San Francisco when eucalyptus / unfurl like children waking to the light.
Bạn sẽ gọi quê hương bằng một đại từ nào? Tôi sẽ gọi đó là một ám ảnh | What pronoun would you use to call your birthsoil? I would call it a haunting
夜來沉醉卸妝遲 || With night you sink drunk slow to undo/ your hair
Can I call my death “I”?
was it a gentle human hand, or black-furred / long-clawed
The shaman wore long white sleeves rippling & / Minuscule in the bone-dry distance. / I jerked & righted the wheel / Plying invisible waves of hot sea
If you lie / on the table, you subject the table to a terrible guilt. / It is no longer a table people can eat on. If you stand / next to the table, the table senses its mortality.
Over and over / from some small / dark pit, / it spun out / a whole world / for itself
I am careful with my words unless they are not in English, / am I not? (不好意識打擾各位可是我不想再禮貌了。) / My mother is careful with her words only when they are in English.
Here, the mangled text that will / become a poem — loose language — / blueprint for a reckoning.
My father was always the magician, / not I. One swift pull and / the silk streamers would spill / from his mouth, flooding the floor.
Banknotes / dropped, jawbones dropped, and it was truly / unnerving, to watch the white people / stare at me, mouths / twitching in awe or pity, / or both.
My father the frycook, his father / the same. Their hands so oiled / everything they touched / flamed. Like Midas if Midas / loved fire not gold.
Did you take my mother’s hand or ghost / the altar in her bedroom first?
Always / propelling the thing forward, not leaving us to rest. / Below: the infinite world, // all its ligaments, all its creatures.
what I don’t get is why / you choose to come here
as I bear loneliness in the shrieks of iron, it carved / my residence registration on a hole-punch
This is a rectangular dream / which inevitably brings forth a rectangular waiting / a floating country can’t pillow a broken dream / and I’ve never dared say goodnight
The / day you died, the windows of our house were / open to let the breeze in. You said that it was / nothing.
Tonight, too, there are turning lines…/ I say I do not know, do not know.
love you because i / hate your lovers loving your peripheral love
Taking advantage of opacity, Girl E goes for it and punches indiscriminately.
Near the bottom of your hollow mouth, / Your cut tongue gathers lizard scales / Like a sunken bucket in an algal well.
into such sen / sitivity of it / such sense / could not say
Ultrasound waves / pulse between fluid, tissue, and bone一 / the embryo echoes.
She’s here to see us off. / Her voice is the softest ligature, unthreading. / Why are you saying goodbye to everyone except for me who raised you?
After a sperm whale sucks in a squid, it will vomit out its beak.
There was a longing / in the carvings of the / knife my mother held / against the fruit. She / peels with quiet / permission.
Marilyn Chin talks bad girl haikus, pissing off your ancestors, and her new career-spanning collection, A Portrait of the Self as Nation.
Fatimah Asghar’s insistence on joy is a refusal of the demand that marginalized writers flatten trauma for the white gaze
May our dead no longer speak to us / Our language now kneaded into other woes / with rancid stars a meager pittance / and false kingdoms rich in violent blows
I always thought I’d find you / throned in the moon-drenched water my wonder / woman your palms curled upward like lotus skins
Who’s keeping count of what’s given against what’s stolen? / There’s nothing I can’t trace back to my coarse immigrant blood.
Tonight, when you return, you / will be an American and I will still be a girl who needs / a translator to read in my mother’s language, my mouth full / of so few shapes. I fall into the habits of my mother, it’s true.
This is my small sphere. / I’ll make good, stay folded in myself. I promise / to memorize the bramble and texture of garden walls.
She is girl. She is gravel. She is grabbed. She is grabbed like handfuls of gravel.
Fingers caked with wet / rice break backs and bellies, / pluck gills, / scrape eggs, tear limbs / Tita takes our legs– / cracks them / under a glass jar for us. / We suck shells ’til twilight.
Woman who puts up her hair comb holds / up the sky. There is the legend and probably a lie.
The poets talk creative collaboration, gardening, epistolary poetry, and the intimacy of sentences.
From a crevice in a severed rock / birds with long beaks were tearing out earthworms. / My pain was without a wound / and in the bodies of the frayed, torn-out worms / there was no pain.
because I love you, I will gut this distance / with nostalgia, because grief can taste of sugar if you run / your tongue along the right edge
Not all rainbow: here, tender orange, / there, rusted brown, the underside / gelatinous and white. Then the bones.
There is uncertainty in your future, a woman on the street told me. I can see it. You will be very unhappy, very soon.
The stallion: one win short / of the triple crown. My intonation: / one stress too many for an apology— / all the times I got it wrong. Minoru, / Minoru—both are gone.
i say i’ll be / dressless, skinless, curated / and pickled. i say i’ll give it / all up for a chance to be warm.
We are our skins; we are our hides. But my skin, and the skin of others like me, has been torn. It is at the site of this gash that our identity coheres, that our identity is espied.
Mythologies have their way of explaining the basic human condition: that there will always be some where or thing you wish to get to or back to.
What a review of Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds tells us about critics’ narrow perceptions of immigrant and war-affected identities
Ask if he knows, what the first champagne mango of the summer / tastes like, its golden juices flowing over some farmer’s / cigar paper skin.
A policeman found the boy minutes later. A shaman, / a monk, a priest, and a poet are still pouring over / his soul.
Against the hills, a tall building with plank-walled rooms. / I, wishing for my wife and son like clouds far away, / My night is even longer under the bright moon.
The moon appears / the small clip of a nail a paring knife / a chalk mark / left to linger in the sky
We prayed for resurrections, / but the dead remain as memories that / seemed to shrink in the mind, / like an airplane appearing smaller / the further it gets from the ground.
I should say kholo, my mother’s brother. / I should say umja, my father’s brother / so you know which branch of the tree to cut. Or / cherish.
If I can learn its grammar and alphabet / hold its vocabulary in my mouth / then perhaps I can know something of history—my history.
Pipedream: / I wondered what it would be like to strip away / slit eyes—sick of assimilation; the debilitating / task of tireless reinvention.
When I was born, my parents put me on a rug on the ground and stood / staring at me until the light outside dimmed and then there in the / darkening we three were quiet for a while
How the Japanese American poet, art critic, and performer helped shape Modernist poetry as he brought Japanese poetic forms into English
Journalist Jennifer Crandall is re-claiming Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” through the voices and stories of the South.
I could live like this, I thought, lie here / and have my own kind of drifting blue.
We wonder if this is what heaven is like—an old movie theater with thick velvet curtains that part, as the lights dim and the naked cherubs peering down from the blue and gold ceiling vanish, like comets.
I want to make / change and am ready / for new challenge. / I can stay between white white lines.
The Hong Kong poet talks the Umbrella movement, being an outsider and an insider in Hong Kong, and how she translates the world.
I dream my mother / unravels / hair out of my mouth / in English / she asks me / to speak Chinese / coils the hair / into a dark gloss / whorled / in her palm
How do I tell you that I have done this before? / How to build a diorama of what I am not.
The floor broke apart / the tasbeeh into ninety / nine beady reflections / and my mother is still / able to fake a surprise / when she can’t locate / them all.
I am the last of them—a woman with her own dreams, not salvaged from the cloud-based data lake that I created.
One lover was bold and touched / me once behind a door, but it was her cousin / Vandie, the one who never looked at me, that I loved. // One lover was kind, so kind, in kissing / me at all.
Older immigrants talk as if Reagan invited them to dinner. / The dream never showed, but we can paint chain link white.
They might spend most of their days in the sky, / but every evening they remember / to come back to earth.
I lay my head down on a pillow pilled / with characters, yellow tracks and traces / of the name I was given.
but really every word sounds like the sun/ sweltering in the middle of Santacruzan
I was her American / daughter, my tongue / my hardest muscle / forced to swallow / a muddy alphabet.
The world held us / In glass circles
Poet Chen Chen talks finding your family, queer Asian American poetry, and Journey to the West.
Think about it: if rain accumulating above someone / resumes descent, where does it fall?
I tell C no one loves me like a mother would. / C says no one loves a fragile queer. I choke / on the thread as it slices words out:/ Say Ma say Mother America say Mother India say love me like a mother won’t.
‘As if I could get un-situated / this airport a bubble hovering / in a void between celestial bodies / in but not of / the country I stand in.’
Kimiko Hahn, Monica Youn, Sally Wen Mao and Emily Yoon joined us for a night of poetry.
People judge me by my skin. My skin’s purpose in life is to prove them wrong.
This week’s articles are about the current U.S. political climate–but don’t worry, we have some new tunes for you to enjoy, too!
The poet talks about her debut collection, sharing silenced histories in her writing, and being a “wild girl poet.”
The two poets talk about their literary family trees, poetry as a protective force, and the changing landscape for Muslim American writers.
‘This drought of silence / that does not feed me. I mean, I refuse / to hold his vanity. And demand to know / myself better. Cull his soul but only / for memory, carve a history / for myself in which my reflection / alone can be seen.’
Three Sessions, 3 hours each (6-9pm) Wednesdays June 14th, June 21st, June 28th Fees & Payment Options: $250 General / $220 AAWW Members (Become a Member!) Full payment due before first class. Maximum of fifteen students. *EARLY BIRD! Sign up before June 1st for $200 General / $180 AAWW Members* *STUDENT RATE for limited seats, […]
‘No words of a Savior are news to a Woman. / No words of a resurrection sound gospel[-enough] / when you are both the Crucifixion and the Crowd.’
‘We do not want to hover like a line of fog, a river’s shadow, but slower: shadows in conversation, gentle only when we don’t bother expecting to be heard.’
Transcendent American poet Max Ritvo wrote that if the world outside a poet’s head is more interesting than the world inside their head, they might as well become a journalist. His point: it’s what’s inside the poet’s mind, what (or who) is hooting or singing or moaning or gagging inside the poet’s own totally unique […]
Muslim Ban CliffsNotes, honoring the late, great Bharati Mukherjee, why Fred Korematsu’s story still matters today, and more.
‘I roam. Sometimes in solitude; sometimes in a crowd. But unlike a dog, I do not die a little each day, subdued to the loyalty of my master. I die all at once if it must be.’
‘If you spark a flame and turn / it upside down, / you will find it is still / a flame.’
Dissecting the violence of state, warfare, and language
Poets Claudia Rankine and Hoa Nguyen speak with Rigoberto Gonzalez about the urgent need for poetry as a force for political change.
An interview with Bay Area poet, teacher, and artist Mg Roberts on interpreting graffiti, fragmented immigrant narratives, and how everyday is an opportunity to revise
Poet Philip Metres talks about why he chose to create an opera from a redacted history of torture
19 writers respond to Michael Derrick Hudson’s yellowface
Writer-artist-professor Tan Lin talks fictive relatives, the narrative of an immigrant TV culture, and ‘becoming Chinese’ in America
What recent race scandals by avant-garde poets Kenneth Goldsmith and Vanessa Place have to do with sunglasses, the invention of the fingerprint, and the atom bomb.
Cathy Linh Che talks about her debut collection of poems, Split, and what it means to mimic flashbacks of war, immigration, and sexual violence.
An interview with spoken word duo DarkMatter on radical desis, the legacy of Partition, Twitter poems and The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I don’t teach my girls / to brave the violence of sun, sons, or stings. / When resources run out, don’t sit there and behave. / Abandon hive.
A review of Tarfia Faizullah’s debut poetry collection Seam, and an interview with the poet
When poet and First Lady Chirlane McCray (aka “FLONYC”) chose spoken word artist Ramya Ramana to perform at her husband’s inauguration, it took the ceremony—and Ramya’s poetry—to a whole new level.
2014 will go down as an historic year for poetry. We’re feting Sally Wen Mao‘s debut Mad Honey Symposium. Dave Eggers likes its “gritty, world-wise sense of humor that gives her work heavyweight swagger.” Also just released: Cathy Linh Che‘s Split, a tender exploration of war, diaspora, and violence, and Tarfia Faizullah‘s Seam, based on interviews with women survivors of the 1971 Pakistani […]
“Asian American Poetry” is not a manageable category—it is not a list.
My palms cannot hold back the shifting currents. / They can slap a rhythm, hoist / a banner, hold / your face tenderly between them
An interview with poet Tung-Hui Hu
I hate you, poem, for wanting to know the truth. / The truth is, I trusted the sky. / Trusted it wouldn’t throw things at us
The rivers / and trenches glossed with light / know we are so relentless as to plan / for catastrophe
The key to enjoying the jubilant, fleshy dread of Feng Sun Chen’s supercut poem is appreciating what one might call the bodily turn in poetry.
Poetic responses to the literature of the Ghadar movement
The author of The Boss thinks she might be the only person left on this planet without an iPod—but her poems are certianly full of music.
This New York-based poet once dreamt of being a trapeze artist.
Four Poems by Victoria Chang
Link-bait for the Monday-challenged.
Sahar Muradi and Zohra Saed are two Afghan American poets. This is a lyrical conversation between Sahar, who returned to retrace footsteps in Afghanistan and Zohra, who remained ensconced in longing for mythic cities of her birth.
How can poets mobilize poetry as a change agent? These poets demonstrate the ways that the arts can contribute to the defense of the environment, workers, and oppose war. Philip Metres will discuss the ways in which projects such as Peace Show (Cleveland) and the “Stories of War and Peace Oral Narratives Project” have become […]
Marilyn Chin said: ‘Our poetry is not a static enterprise but a thriving, historical progression.’ As we look at Asian American poetry today, much as changed, yet much has stayed the same. This panel will feature a group of diverse literary critics, anthologists, and poets in a vibrant discussion to grapple with questions such as: […]
Add power to your poetic punches and fleetness to your formal footwork. These classes will focus on adding techniques, tension, and twists to your expressive toolbox. Specific classes will focus on landing leaps, torquing turns, and the uses and abuses of certain voids. There will be a weekly writing assignment and workshop as well as […]
Remaining unnoticed is not a new thing for Staten Island.
“I have a mole on the bottom of my foot, and some of my more superstitious relatives told me that if you have a mole on the sole of one foot, you’ll always yearn to visit new places more than most.”