Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, games, and podcasts.
I’ve read three fantastic collections of poetry in the past month. In Oculus , Sally Wen Mao blends pop culture and technology to question viewpoints — how we reveal ourselves, how we see each other, and the power structures involved in who is telling the story and who doing the viewing. All the poems in this collection are fantastic, but I was particularly enamored with a series of poems written within the perspective of Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American movie star, who time travels her way through the history and future of cinema. Through the eyes of Wong, Mao is able to examine the portrayals of Asian characters in movies, from Bruce Lee to Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sixteen Candles. I love the way she explores representation throughout this book, which is probably one of my favorite poetry reads thus far in 2019. I had a great conversation with Mao on the New Books in Poetry podcast about her process of writing this book and discussing the ways poetry can reclaim point-of-view and stories.
John Sibley Williams’ As One Fire Consumes Another presents a familiar world full of burnings carried out on both the grand and intimate scale. I love the way the newspaper-like columns of prose poetry in his work provide a social critique of violence in American culture while working within the boundaries of self, family, and the natural world. The book permeates an apocalyptic tension, but what makes it so great is the way in which his poems envision the kind of fires that not only provide destruction but also illuminate a spark of hope. And I also interviewed Williams about his book, which will be coming out on NBP podcast soon (seems like most of my poetry reading is focused around my podcasting work these days).
I also read Juliet Cooks new chapbook, Dark Purple Intersections (inside my Black Doll Head Irises), which uses beautiful dark imagery to provide a kind of coming of age narrative for adulthood. The narrator discovers more about herself through the progress of each poem and it’s lovely.