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5 2021 Poetry Collections by AAPI Poets

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time for recognizing the contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans have made to U.S. history and culture. Poets with AAPI heritage have enriched the American literary landscape for over a century, but only began to gain mainstream recognition in the 1970s. 

 

The work of AAPI poets has continued to shape contemporary literature. In her 2004 introduction to Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation, Victoria Chang writes, “new Asian American poets have captured the power of the past but have ventured into new territories and discovered, created, and revealed new voices and styles.” To celebrate this, we’ve highlighted five outstanding poetry collections by AAPI poets released in 2021. 

 

The Sunflower Cast A Spell To Save Us From The Void by Jackie Wang

Author Jackie Wang is both a poet and an Assistant Professor of Culture and Media Studies at The New School. Her highly anticipated and acclaimed collection The Sunflower Cast A Spell To Save Us From The Void taps into the subconscious to reveal deeper truths about ourselves. Informed by her own dream journal, this collection analyzes how social processes and traumas show up in our dreams—from interpersonal conflict to generational trauma. Released Feb. 2, 2021. 

 

Divine Fire by David Woo

Award-winning poet David Woo draws on themes of childhood, personal space, and privacy to analyze race and class inequality through an intimate lens. His latest poetry collection, Divine Fire, links these personal experiences to ever-vaster scales of meaning, like the global issue of climate change and finding spirituality in a time of crisis. Released March 1, 2021. 

 

Dēmos: An American Multitude by Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley

Poet Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley places multiculturalism at center stage in his newest collection. Drawing on his Onondaga, Japanese, Cuban, and Appalachian cultures, the poet merges the personal and political to discuss themes of anger, violence, and oppression. Released March 9, 2021. 

 

Peach State by Adrienne Su

Chinese-American poet Adrienne Su brings the literary and culinary together in this inventive poetry collection. Through the settings of restaurants, home kitchens, and grocery stores, Su reveals the Chinese-American influence on her hometown’s food and culture. Toying with sonnets, villanelles, palindromes, and more, Peach State reveals the immigrant and Southern experience in Atlanta, Georgia. Released March 23, 2021. 

 

Cleave by Tiana Nobile

In her debut poetry collection, Cleave, poet Tiana Nobile brings a compassionate and lucid voice to the story of transnational adoption. Extrapolating the personal to the broader, collective experience, Nobile untangles the complexities of adoptee childhood and offers insight on the America we currently live in. Released April 6, 2021.