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.’
‘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.’
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
“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.
“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.”