Glass Poetry Chapbook Series

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(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

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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

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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 this one closer up as well as 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.

In Black Ink, Love May Still Shine Bright

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Thanks to Heather Salerno for interviewing me and writing this article for Brandeis Magazine. We discussed my book, the National Book Award long list, teaching, and what writing means to me. It’s such an honor and a pleasure to serve as the Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University. Thanks also to Mike Lovett for the photography. You can check out the whole piece here.

How to Read Harder in 2019

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Thanks to librarian Gwen Glazer for including my book in "How to Read Harder in 2019," a recommended reading list for the New York Public Library. Great to be on here alongside poetry books by Nicole Sealey, (BOA pressmate!) Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, and Tracy K. Smith.

Check out all the recommended books, across twenty-four categories!

New poems in Foglifter

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i tap on the window of feeling
unseen & the window
refuses to personify me

—from “four short essays personifying…”

Many and most queer thanks to Luiza Flynn-Goodlett and everyone at Foglifter for assembling this amazing new issue. My contributor copies arrived recently and I’m so glad to have three new poems in this issue, alongside beautiful work by Kristin Chang, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Mai C. Doan, D. Gilson, and others.

Here’s the beginning of one of my poems, “four short essays personifying a future in which white supremacy has ended.” (Yes, my obsession with long sentence titles is only growing.)

Read the rest of that poem here.

And get the full issue here.

Glass Poetry - Recommended Reading 2018

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Slightly belated but still super enthused thanks to Anthony Frame, Editor of Glass Poetry, for including my poem “I Invite My Parents to a Dinner Party” (originally published in the Poem-a-Day series) in his 2018 year’s end list of recommended reading. What a blessing to find my work here, alongside stunning poems by Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Kristin Chang, Yujane Chen, Cassandra de Alba, Logan February, Roy Guzmán, Luther Hughes, Sara Eliza Johnson, Rachel McKibbins, H. Melt, Noor Ibn Najam, Julian Randall, Leah Silvieus, Erin Elizabeth Smith, Shelley Wong, and others.

Check out the entire list here.

Poem-a-Day in 2019

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The Poem-a-Day series played a vital role in helping me overcome my fear of contemporary poetry, so I recommend it to anyone who’s interested in exploring the genre but doesn’t know where to start. These daily poems introduced me to some of the poets who became a vital part of my love affair with contemporary poetry, including Hieu Minh Nguyen, Kaveh Akbar, Danez Smith, Safia Elhillo, Ada Limón, Chen Chen, and others […] Reading these individual poems led me to their full collections, and now contemporary poetry makes up 20% of the books I read.

—Emily Polson

Big thanks to Emily Polson for this shoutout in an article over on Book Riot, about the new Guest Editors for Poem-a-Day in 2019. So glad for this series on Poets.org and how it’s creating more and more voracious poetry readers. I’m also glad for this democratization of the selection process for Poem-a-Day—we need more people picking, more pickers of poems, more perspectives and tastes and delights. Read Polson’s full piece here.

And: read about the dozen Guest Editors for 2019, including TC Tolbert, Clint Smith, Victoria Chang, Paisley Rekdal, Samiya Bashir, Oliver de la Paz, and Sherwin Bitsui.