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Nests and Strangers: On Asian American Women Poets

Nests and Strangers: On Asian American Women Poets


Edited by Timothy Yu

with an afterword by Mg Roberts


    2015, 116 pages

    ISBN 978-0-932716-81-1



    "What is an avant-garde Asian American Poetic?" Nests and Strangers: On Asian American Women Poets offers an investigation into the contextual identities of diaspora, sound, and the materiality of objectification found both in and on the body through the possibilities of language and page. Essayists Sarah Dowling, Merle Woo, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, and Dorothy Wang provide a critical framework on the life, works, politics, and poetics of Asian American poets Nellie Wong, Myung Mi Kim, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, and Bhanu Kapil, four authors whose bodies of work represent the full range of Asian American poetry written since the 1970s.


    BIOGRAPHIES of the Editors

    Timothy Yu is Associate Professor of English and Asian American Studies and Director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of Race and the Avant-Garde: Experimental and Asian American Poetry Since 1965 (Stanford University Press). He is also the author of two poetry chapbooks, 15 Chinese Silences (Tinfish, 2009) and Journey to the West (Barrow Street, 2006).


    Born in Subic Bay, Philippines, Mg Dufresne is the author of Anemal Uter Meck (Black Radish Books, 2017) and not so, sea (Durga Press, 2014). Her work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets, Dusie, Web Conjunctions, and the eco poetic anthologies Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene and Poetics for the More-than-Human World: An Anthology of Poetry & Commentary. She is currently co-editing Responses, New Writing, Flesh with Ronaldo Wilson and Tonya Foster, an anthology on the urgency of avant-garde writing written for and by writers of color (forthcoming from Nightboat Books). She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her three daughters and geologist husband, where she makes functional ceramics and sculptural vessels.


    What I first thought would be a coincidental combination of very different poets and poetries unexpectedly reveals a logical trajectory from twentieth-century Asian American activism to radically innovative poetry. These poets don't just defy erasure or silencing of their individual or chosen-as-collective identities—they create and re-create selves unimaginable to those who would have subsumed their voices. The terms "Asian American" or "Asian American poetry" can be unsatisfactory for reducing difference. But after reading this collection, I actually opened myself up to the possibility of accepting the label: "Asian American woman poet."

    —Eileen R. Tabios


    Encompassing an impressively wide range of poetic strategies and orientations within what might seem a narrow category, this lively collection of essays explores a group of Asian American women poets bonded together by a groundbreaking small press whose expansive vision offered a stage on which new, challenging forms might emerge. In so doing, these essays participate in a celebration that is both timely and well deserved.

    —Joseph Jonghyun Jeon


    This urgently needed collection of essays offers new readings of the poetry of Nellie Wong, Myung Mi Kim, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, and Bhanu Kapil as engaged with what Sarah Dowling, in an essay on Kim, calls "the problem of how one becomes, or is prevented from becoming, a subject over time." As the title implies, Nests and Strangers both highlights the aesthetic heterogeneity of poetry by Asian American women while at the same time acknowledging conditions of subjection that inform the poets' political commitments and make intricate forms of intimacy and embodied perception possible in the writing.

    —Chris Chen

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