The “Mainly White Room” of Poetry

“The Program Era and the Mainly White Room” is a massively ambitious and provocative effort by Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young to answer the question: Why is the space of American poetry still so white? This piece deserves sustained engagement, but here are a few of my thoughts from a very quick initial read. Like pretty much every poet of…

APA Heritage Month: 15 Classics of Asian American/Canadian Fiction

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, so the New York Public Library offered up a reading list of “Asian-Pacific American Heritage Picks.” Although there were a few great choices, like Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being and Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer, there were also some real head-scratchers.  James Michener’s Hawaii? Memoirs of a Geisha? In fact,…

On the Poetry Foundation’s “Asian American Voices in Poetry”

This letter was originally sent to the Poetry Foundation’s web editors in response to their feature “Asian American Voices in Poetry,” which includes a list of some 100 Asian American poets.  When originally posted, the list included a “country of heritage” for most of the authors.  In response to this letter and other feedback received by the editors, the “countries…

The Tang of Silence

Last week, the Academy of American Poets‘ Poem-A-Day posted Bruce Cohen’s “Tang,” which included the following note from the author:  Lately I have been worried and depressed over the fact that my poetic voice was becoming stale, my persona and language too familiar, and quite simply, I was bored with myself.  In order to shake myself out of my funk…

"I Refuse to Ever Date an Asian Man": Racetrolling, Self-Sabotage, and How Not to Read Junot Diaz

A couple weeks ago, my Facebook feed blew up over a post called “I’m an Asian Woman and I Refuse to Ever Date an Asian Man.” Eye-roll, please: there’s nothing more likely to get Asian Americans riled up than the subject of interracial dating–except maybe the question of why some Asians don’t find other Asians attractive. Self-loathing, betrayal, the emasculated…

"Unleash Ch(i)ang"

A Q&A with Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida and Tea Party darling, in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine included a puzzling anecdote about former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and an ancient Chinese warrior: After you became the first Cuban-American speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, in 2006, your mentor, Jeb Bush, presented you with a sword. What was…

Tiger Mom Is Still Better Than You

“Tiger Mom” Amy Chua returned last month with a new essay in the Wall Street Journal. She’s a little more circumspect, a little more “hands-off.” But don’t worry. She’s still a better parent than you are. Chua’s older daughter is now in college (at Harvard, of course). Tiger Mom is constantly looking over her shoulder, right? Wrong! That’s for inferior…