April 16, 2016

Thank you for visiting!

You can find out about my upcoming events and appearances here. A list of my journal/magazine publications is here, and I link to essays & reviews here. To be directed to Kala Pani, click this.

For my divination/sacred offerings, go to Art of Divinations.

Also, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

Lantern Review Reads at American Bookbinders tonight

Join us tonight at a reading at the American Bookbinders Museum! I will be presenting new and old work, along with poets Barbara Jane Reyes, Brynn Saito, Candy Shue, Debbie Yee, and Jason Bayani. We have all been past contributors to Lantern Review, an amazing online journal of Asian American poetry and art, which is back after a two-year hiatus. LR has asked us to read work that explores themes of printing, thread/stitching, paper, community, and the Bay Area itself. What a glad opportunity to celebrate National Poetry Month!

(As D.A. Powell tweets:
"one month is simply not enough
for all the poetry you'll need
to get you through this year")

A shout-out to Iris Law and Mia Malhotra whose labor of love (and so much love!) this is. The care and generosity they bring to every aspect of the journal and blog and associated events are obvious.
There will be a follow-up Third Thursday event on April 21 that I will have to miss due to a prior commitment.

I hope to see some of you there. Please note that admission is $5 for adults, $2.50 for students, with children under ten admitted free. The museum assures that no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

February 23, 2016

February 08, 2015

When great directors turn upon their films

I so loved Werner Herzog's 1984 indictment of extractive modernity, Where the Green Ants Dream. Then I heard his director's commentary recorded twenty years after the film, where he repeatedly decries the "righteous tone" of the movie.

I felt a little sad at coming across once again--and that too from Herzog--the belief that good art cannot take a moral stand, or that a moral stance is necessarily reductive.

This is such a white Euro-American perspective on art!

I would like to argue that sincerity does not necessarily simplify, that there is nothing simple about sincerity. Sincerity is necessarily, naturally, contrapuntal. Contextual. Always, already strange, particularly in periods typified by reified aesthetic gestures of irony, nihilism, and intellectualism.


Werner also, in the director's commentary, blames the abuse of alcohol and drugs among indigenous communities on indigenous folk being thrown into a civilization that is thousands of years "ahead" - not understanding (not caring? ignoring? forgetting?) that the "shock" the "primitive" people suffer from erupts not from being behind, but at finding themselves in a modernity that is so far behind: in empathy, mutuality, interconnectedness, participation, love.

February 05, 2015

A Midwinter Reading

Hosted by the gracious Melissa Mack: be invited! 

(Email me for directions)

January 23, 2015


I love the Bay Area. The Bay Area is mad for poetry! There are 100 poets reading at Oakland's E.M. Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore as part of THE HUNDY, a 15 day daily poetry extravaganza, and you will agree with me that it is quite excessive and marvelous!

I am on tomorrow, in the double-header curated by Carrie Hunter and Andrea-Abi Karam. Come one, come all!

January 19, 2015

on sensing and honoring the waters

The first issue of vitriol includes a poem where I call in and celebrate the waters...

...and awesome illustrations of contributors by Cal Tabuena-Frolli!

Conundrum for a Community

As we come to know ourselves and each other as a community, how can also allow ourselves and each other to be unknown, so there is space to be new, to renew? So waters of love and possibility and renewal and connection and forgiveness can flow and continue flowing?

And if we think we know each other, will that thinking stop us from really knowing each other in this moment? Will that stop us from extending love to each other?

If love is openness and willingness to know - holding the other not to an image but to the emerging (of spirit, of healing, of love) that is budding in them - how may we love each other?

How may we see each other?

If forgiveness is a remitting of debts - what will allow the debts we collect (or impose) in community to be remitted?

And what of the ego's desire to be right, to defend its stand, to know, to be certain (before or so that it can trust)?

Is there a way to stay tender towards each other's becoming as we continue to come together and take a stand together and build and create together? - as village, as community?

And what of our beloved relationships in other spheres of our lives? What of our other communities? How can we cultivate a beginner's mind to relationship even as our deep wounds get triggered that seek safety and certainty, that permit us to offer only so much openness or conditional trust? 

Sometimes I notice my own tightening - and ask for healing - and ask to meet that deep well of love that I may know you in your spaciousness - and allow myself to be known in mine - continually.

December 02, 2014

Quick notes: Nico Peck's The Pyrrhiad

The taste of bloodgriefrage still with meselkies still singingby way of this sly, multi-voiced elegy where, amidst the violence in our cities, thoughts, language, we are injected with possibility—of playin word & worldthat is both guile & guilelessness.

And the living are taught we may speak to the dead, milk between us.

(Nico Peck's The Pyrrhiad has been published by Dirty Swan Projects, 2014)

November 23, 2014

Tonight with Hearts Desire & Dirty Swan Projects at The Omni Commons

Nico Peck and Sara Larsen launch their first full-length collections tonight, and I will be joining them at this exciting reading/event:

Nico's THE PYRRHIAD (Dirty Swan Projects)

7-9pm, @ Omni Oakland Commons, 4799 Shattuck Ave, Oakland, CA

More info:



November 04, 2014

AAWW's TO DO list for you this Friday

1) Travel to the colony of world travelers. 2) Code-switch. 3) Get vulnerable and fluctuate. 4) Come to our wild reading with some of our favorite emerging poets: Jenny Zhang, Wendy Xu, Monica Mody, and Monica McClure. Rookie contributor Jenny Zhang--possibly the poet most mentioned when we get internship and job applications--is “a 21st century Whitman, only female, Chinese, and profoundly scatological" (Elizabeth Robinson). Ruth Lilly Fellow Wendy Xu--whose You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center 2013) was one of Poets & Writers's picks for top poetry debuts--"plunder through our lives, collecting the oddest and most significant things, turning our thoughts toward things we couldn’t have known before she turned us toward them" (Dara Wier). Take a dive in the black waters of Monica Mody’s shamanic-futuristic Kala Pani (1913 press 2013), the best bonkers, ritualistic-bureaucratic, anti-imperial, terraforming poetry book ever written about lentils. Latina gurlesque poet Monica McClure’s new book Tender Data (Birds LLC 2014) offers a hash-tagged, slippery, code-switching take on gender-making, class warfare, and vexed relationships--that’s 100% chiflada.

Asian American Writers' Workshop 
112 W 27th Street, 6FL, New York, NY 10001
Friday, November 7, 2014, 7:00pm

Monica McClure’s debut poetry collection Tender Data (Birds LLC) comes out in the spring. The curator of the Atlas Reading Series, she also wrote the chapbooks Mood Swing (Snacks Press 2013) and Mala (Poor Claudia) and co-edited with Brenda Shaughnessy the anthology Both and Neither: Biracial American Writers. Read an interview with her here.

Monica Mody’s first book, KALA PANI, just came out from 1913 Press. Bhanu Kapil calls her “a poet of sacrifice” who writes “to us from the space behind the sun.” Monica has worked with Breakthrough, the global human rights organization, on their program areas, as well as with the Centre for Feminist Legal Research as a film festival coordinator. Her engagement with social justice and feminist/queer issues draws on her citizen/alien selves as much as on her evolving ideas of spiritual participation. Through 2007-08, Monica curated Open Baithak, a multilingual poetry in performance series in Delhi. Check out her conversation with Cathy Linh Che here.

Wendy Xu is the author of You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center 2013), which was profiled by Poets & Writers Magazine as one of the year’s best debut books. A Ruth Lilly Fellow, she is the co-editor and publisher of iO: A Journal of New American Poetry / iO Books, and former curator of the jubilat / Jones reading series. Here she is at the poetry foundation.

Jenny Zhang could be the poet most mentioned as their favorite when we get internship applications. Her poetry collection Dear Jenny, We Are All Find (Octopus Books, 2012) has become a sort of classic. Hear her talk about how she became a ghoul here! She’s a regular contributor to Rookie, curates Stain of Poetry, a monthly reading series in Bushwick.

Save a seat here!

October 20, 2014

Capable of miracles

Even a short stay in the kingdom of Monsea puts you at the risk of being in the range of King Leck’s lies—and you don’t have to hear his voice for the lies to take hold in your mind. Contact with someone exposed to him, or even someone exposed to someone else who had contact with him, could affect your sanity—your ability to discern, question, and resist. The lies spread insidiously and virally, and soon, we are all in a state of trance, unable to see things for what they are. We ignore the small animals mysteriously injured and unable to heal. We ignore the indigenous communities, farmers, fishermen, workers, and homeless displaced, forced to migrate, impoverished, criminalized in the name of development. We ignore the deaths and beatings, the abuse and the institutional disrespect. We ignore communities living in fear and mistrust. We ignore the polluted waters and the disappearing species. We ignore the floods and the landslides. We ignore the signs, and we stop hearing and seeing everything that does not fit into the narrative that Leck wants us to hold.

It is easy to want to believe in the goodness and rightness of Leck’s story. For who really wants to hurt others? Who really wants their lives to be built on a foundation of lies?

We want to believe in love and goodness and honesty and fairness and equality—that there is compassion and soft landings and courage and joy and vitality and tenderness in the world. For this is who we are. Deep down inside, this is what matters to us. 

Perhaps this is why, in spite of the trance, it could be that we have slipped back into remembrance, across the always fuzzy borders of stories and consciousness—perhaps someone we love (the earth, ancestors, goddess) has been hurt or is in danger and that has jolted us back to wakefulness—to being able to see beyond Leck’s stories, and the pain in our heart is tremendous. How could we have allowed ourselves to be duped—to be taken over by the lies, illusion, trance—so utterly? What happened to everything that we have held dear about ourselves: our values of love, justice, truth, fairness, mutual respect, empathy, and grace? What happened to who we believe ourselves to be deep down inside—good people, good citizens, courageous humans? 

And what can we do now? What can we do to make sure that we are not pulled back and made instruments of a socio-economic-imaginal-moral order so completely unmitigated and vicious that it sees humans (and, indeed, all of nature) merely as chess pieces to be moved around and—in the name of ‘progress’ and ‘development’—kicked off the board? What can we do to ensure that those we love and care about (all of humanity, all of the earth, all of the cosmos) stay safe, cherished, thriving?

It is clear that those of us who can must continue to remember and speak the new story, birth it into existence, foster its interconnections. We must keep singing the sacred songs and trust that other voices will join us, that someone will hear us across the mountain and be moved or comforted, or lit up or ripped ablaze.
This conviction must be held in the face of all odds. 
It must be held in the face of all doubt, all uncertainty, all fear, because possibilities open up when we are able to stare the impossible in its face. As Marianne Williamson says, “miracles are summoned by conviction. Conviction can be seen as an attitudinal muscle that gives us strength to see beyond appearances and invoke the possibilities that lie there.”

Let us invoke the possibilities.

And one day, the newold story of love—as too the wings of our collective conviction—will become so sturdy, so strong, that together we will be able to lift the hunter’s trap-net with our courage, our love, and fly.