The Best American Poetry 2019 - Contributor Copies

Contributor copies of The Best American Poetry 2019 arrived earlier this week and I’ve finally taken some pics!

Here’s an excerpt of my poem in the anthology, “I Invite My Parents to a Dinner Party”—and then (click through to see!) my copies, including the hardcover (!!) edition; my contributor note + commentary on how this poem came to be (shoutout to Muriel Leung) (yes, I’m between Victoria Chang and Leonard Cohen—yes, I’m ecstatic 💛); and the back cover, featuring the names of all the contributors (what company! what poets!).

Wonderful Nothings - the Zine!

It’s here! Mag Gabbert and I recently finished making this zine during my visit to Dallas. The title of our zine, Wonderful Nothings, comes from comedian and crafts enthusiast Amy Sedaris, who writes in her book Simple Times, “Crafting is considered to be a pastime where one turns simple somethings into wonderful nothings.” This little collection features erasure poems, poems typed up handsomely (or at least semi-competently) on an old Olympia typewriter, and original poetry that’s never appeared elsewhere!

A preview from our author pic photoshoot:

A preview of the cover + one of my erasure poems:

Go here to download (for free!) a digital and/or printable booklet.

Teach This Poem - Poets.org

The title poem from my book was recently the Teach This Poem of the week over on Poets.org. It was the first poem for the new school year! Super honored to be kicking things off. Click through the images for an excerpt from my poem and an excerpt from the lesson (love the use of images of a hurricane!).

I’ve always loved this time of year—some new school supplies, a fresh haircut, the anticipation of the leaves changing, the leaves changing, the beauty of late summer/early fall meeting the beauty of reading together, of discussing books & language & sound & meaning. The beauty of notebooks & careful note-taking!!

Sunflowers & gratitude to Ansley Moon for developing this lesson. Full poem + lesson here.

National Endowment for the Arts - Fellow page

So honored to be a 2019 NEA Fellow in Literature! All the 2019 Fellows’ pages are up on the arts.gov site now. Here’s my author photo (thanks again to Jess X. Snow) and (click through to read!) my statement, in which I discuss my second full-length poetry manuscript (tentatively titled Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency) and what this funding means to me. On the site there’s also a sample poem from my second mss, “Winter [The grackles flap...]”

Read everything here.

Updates!!!

Gosh! It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here. Lots has happened. I’ll just cover the major thingies and then some of the latest thingies.

Major

My craft chapbook, You MUST Use the Word Smoothie, is available for FREE download from Sundress Publications.

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I won a Pushcart Prize for my poem “four short essays personifying a future in which white supremacy has ended,” originally published by Foglifter (many thanks to the editors for nominating me!).

Latest

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Bouquets of thanks to the DC Youth Slam Team for highlighting my poem, “Set the Garden on Fire” on their Twitter page, in honor of Immigrant Heritage Month. The poem’s the title poem from my first chapbook and was first published in Split This Rock’s Poem of the Week—archived here. And here’s the cool graphic (with an excerpt from the poem) that the DC Youth Slam Team posted.

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It is also, of course (!), Pride Month (!!!). Thanks to Sarah Neilson for including my book in “Reading the Rainbow: A Pride Reading List” over at LA Review of Books. Such a beautiful list! And I love this description for my collection. “A total thrill”~!

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LARB Reading the Rainbow excerpt screenshot.jpg

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This week (June 12th) marked the third anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. 49 people, many of them queer and Latinx, were killed in what was, at the time, the largest modern massacre in the United States. It was Latin night. People were dancing, laughing, sharing stories and themselves.

Here is an elegy I wrote in response to Pulse. This poem thinks about, among other things, queer desire and joy next to the constant threat of violence. I am immensely grateful to Julian Randall for publishing this last year as part of a “Lineage of Mirrors” feature on Winter Tangerine.

Gesundheit!

Sam Herschel Wein and I made a chapbook together called Gesundheit! And now it’s going to be published by one of our favorite chapbook presses, Glass Poetry!! Congratulations to all the poets whose collections were picked up—can’t wait to read them. And congratulations to the stunning finalists. 🐳 🎊

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Our collection consists of poems by Sam, poems by me, and some completely collaborative work, too. These pieces examine lemons, bike marathons, heteronormative society, failure, soap operas, Ikea bags, and that most universal of experiences—sneezing.

Ultimately, the chapbook is a celebration of queer friendship—between two young poets (and cuties mhm). Thanks to editor Anthony Frame for believing in this collaboration and for all the labor that goes into this beautiful chapbook series.

Read the full official announcement here.

Poetry In Voice - Poem of the Week

Thanks to Poetry In Voice for including my poem “When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities” (yes, the title poem from my book!) in an online anthology of poems available for their recitation contest—and for making this one their poem of the week. Read it on their site.

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Image, with the original announcement, from Poetry In Voice’s Twitter.

According to their website, Poetry In Voice / Les voix de la poésie is a “charitable organization that encourages Canadian students to fall in love with poetry through reading, recitation, and writing.” Honored and delighted to have my poem included and featured this way.

Olympia

So much gratitude to Beth Reynolds for this Olympia typewriter (and thank you also for the oatmeal chocolate cookies!). What a stunning gift. I’ve been wanting a typewriter for a while—when I was younger, my family had one that I loved using, and then at some point, years ago, we just moved on entirely to computers. I’ve been missing the sound of typewriters. The keys and little hammers, the bell. The unabashed clack, this bold machinery.

The second image here is my second attempt at typing something on the Olympia. First attempt had many more mistakes, haha. On this page are all my collections—chapbook and full-length, published and forthcoming and still in the works. Thanks to Jeff for looking up how to type the number 1 (not with an uppercase “I” but with a lowercase “L”), how to make an exclamation point (a three-step process), and how to backspace (just a key I keep forgetting is the key). Learning and learning. From the fumbling and the slow attending, trying again. Also excited to use some whiteout!

Next—will (must) type up poems/poem excerpts I love. Maybe something by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, whose book Song I just taught in my poetry workshop at Brandeis. And then maybe something by Nikky Finney, whose book Head Off & Split I am about to teach. These will likely be excerpts, as they both tend (gorgeously) toward the long poem. But then, I anticipate, I know that there will also be delight as well as instruction in spending that time—taking that care to type up and out a long unfolding.

Smith College

Thanks to the Smith College Poetry Center for making these beautifully designed cards with my poems on them!

I had an amazing time reading at Smith last Tuesday. Many thanks to Matt Donovan, Director of the Poetry Center, for organizing and shepherding and conversing. Thanks to Nathan McClain for the gorgeous introduction at the reading.

And my love to former teachers who came to the event—Floyd Cheung (I took an Asian American literature class with him and now he’s teaching my book in one such class!) and Martín Espada (I took a workshop, a Pablo Neruda class, and a poetry of the political imagination class with him at UMass Amherst).

It was also wonderful to meet up with some friends, old & new (love how easy it is to visit Western Mass/the Valley now that I’m back in the Boston area). And to explore the Smith College Museum of Art, which has such a fantastic collection… AND an incredible gift shop.

For example: this snail figurine!!

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Glass Poetry Chapbook Series

(Bff!) Sam Herschel Wein and I wrote a sneeze-&-tissue-filled collab/joint chapbook called Gesundheit! and now it’s a finalist for the Glass Poetry Chapbook Series (which has published/keeps publishing such beautiful, urgent work). Alongside so many poem people we admire! Sunlight & gratitude to editor Anthony Frame.

(And yes, we already have a tour name—The Achoo Tour!)

In any case, celebrating this milestone and celebrating all these finalists.

Image from this Twitter post/official announcement.

Project VOICE - Writing Prompt

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Gratitude to Project VOICE for creating and posting on IG this writing prompt that uses my poem “When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities” (yes, the title poem from my book!) as a jumping off point. I so appreciate here the focus on listing and celebrating, on engaging with/subverting expectations, both internal and external. My thanks to Otto Vock of the Project VOICE team for asking to feature my poem. Check out the full post on IG here.

Love Poems

I love love poems—reading them, writing them (or trying to). I love the falling in love with language that happens with every poem (or so I hope for). I love the bold effort, the tender effort to say, to sing, and to listen more precisely and strangely. I love love poems for partners, friends, plants, waters, family, your own breath.

Grateful to the following places for sharing some of my love poems on Thursday, for Valentine’s Day (a silly, commercial holiday, but maybe at its best a reminder of something sweet; including the literal discount chocolate the next day!):

Kundiman (which itself refers to a genre of Filipino love song)—”First Light,” which was published in Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts and then in my first book and also in Poem-a-Day.

Poetry Magazine on Twitter— “Winter,” which appeared in the Asian American poets issue.

Poets.org on Instagram—”The School of Night & Hyphens,” which was published in Poem-a-Day.

The Best American Poetry 2019

‪So I think I can share this news now? I’m ecstatic that my poem, “I Invite My Parents to a Dinner Party” has been selected by Major Jackson for The Best American Poetry 2019. Thanks to Major Jackson and series editor David Lehman. Thanks to Tracy K. Smith, who first chose this one for Poem-a-Day. And thanks to Muriel Leung, whose care and conversation sparked the writing. ❤️🎉

I’m not supposed to post any screenshots or links to the poem, but I think you have enough info to google it (or find it on this site!), if you so desire. I think this one’s also been one of my most shared poems online, which has been really moving to see, as this is a deeply personal piece about coming out and coming out again and again and again and. I’m glad the poem is reaching people who need it, and living a full life.

Poems of Gladness

Thanks to Catherine Pierce for the shout-out (to my Twitter!—a recent thread on happy poems) in this candid, moving piece, “On Mary Oliver and Resisting Poems of Gladness,” over on The Millions.

I, too, have been reflecting on my past reluctance to openly celebrate Oliver’s work, to recommend her poems to students, or especially to colleagues. I regret not speaking more often about what Oliver’s work means to me, while she was still alive. I’m determined, now, not to shy away from my enthusiasm, her gorgeous contribution.

Read Pierce’s entire essay here.

New poems in Massachusetts Review

Ahh I’ve got 2 very queer, very season-obsessed poems in the new Massachusetts Review, which is an issue devoted to Asian American literature. Here’s one poem, “Spring.” You can read the other one, “Winter,” over on my Instagram.

What a gift, a blessing, to be a part of such a gorgeous issue, alongside ✨ shining stars ✨ Kazim Ali, Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, Wo Chan, Floyd Cheung (a former teacher of mine!), Marilyn Chin, Franny Choi, Kimiko Hahn, W. Todd Kaneko, Swati Khurana, Christine Kitano, Hyejung Kook, Joseph O. Legaspi, Sally Wen Mao, Rajiv Mohabir, Diana Khoi Nguyen, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Raena Shirali, Ocean Vuong, Jane Wong, Shelley Wong, Bryan Thao Worra, John Yau, Timothy Yu, & others. ❤️❤️

With many thanks to the guest editors, Cathy J. Schlund-Vials and Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis. And what an amazing feature of this issue, the lectures and addresses—Asian American writers talking about, thinking about other Asian American writers.

This publication also marks a personal milestone: my third time in the Massachusetts Review! Having grown up in Amherst, then Boston, this journal has long been on my radar—was one of my first dream pubs. So glad, as an Asian American who most strongly feels “from” Massachusetts, that my third contribution to the journal is for this issue.

At the same time, my continued reading and working in Asian American studies lead me to question “belonging” to any state under rubrics of “American-ness” (too often dependent on proximity to cishet whiteness). Also considering who has yet to appear in this and other “Asian American issues” of journals—and how I can help shift things, with such issues and beyond this framework of the special issue and “inclusion.” Grateful to the writers in this issue for reminding me to keep pushing my imagination, my politics, my craft.

Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

—Mary Oliver, from “Wild Geese”

It’s been a stressful, difficult week, and to learn of Mary Oliver’s passing is so crushing. Hers were among the first poetry books I found as a high schooler, wandering the local library, starting to seek out poems on my own. Out of need. Today, I need these words of hers again.

Grateful also to Brandon Taylor for a beautiful essay on why this poem matters, “How Mary Oliver Helped Me to Breathe Again.”

& I’m thinking of, I’m breathing in, I’m saying out loud this line of Oliver’s (from “Don’t Hesitate”), as well:

Joy is not made to be a crumb.