Poetry Recs by AAPI Authors | 2020 Edition

Before I get to my poetry recommendations I want to start this post by talking about what has happened over the last few days in the U.S. and Canada. We’ve seen an outcry for justice for Black Americans and Canadians who have died at the hands of, what are an increasingly, militarized police forces. These protests are the culmination of pain, trauma, and injustice from a community who have no other outlet to demand justice and reparations for the wrongs done to them over many, many generations. As acclaimed writer Ibram X. Kendi tweeted, “Protest is the heartbeat of humanity. It is the sound of human rights beating to live.” The lives of those who have been taken matter, the lives of those who live and continue to fight matter. Black lives matter. 

As a Chinese Canadian, I cannot consciously stay silent as all this happens. All I can do is try to be an ally. That means supporting groups and funds that work to support Black lives, it means calling out anti-Black racism in my own community, it means listening to Black people when they say something is racist, it means educating myself, it means speaking out, and offering avenues in which to learn more about the history that has lead to these events and how we can better help our Black brothers and sisters. It’s something you can do as well – silence is complicity, so don’t be silent.

Below I’ve listed several links to resources to better support the Black community as an AAPI and links to donations for groups working to support the communities affected:

  • Kathleen Newman-Bremang’s R29 essay “The Pandemic of Black Trauma Will Never End”
  • Good Good Good Co. IG post on “How To Be Actively Antiracist”
  • Julie Ae Kim’s Twitter thread on a reading list on anti-blackness, racism, and Asian American complicity in white supremacy: link
  • Black Lives Matter Movement Fund: link
  • George Floyd Memorial Fundraiser: link
  • Justice for Ahmaud Arbery Fundraiser: link
  • Justice for Breonna Taylor Petition: link
  • Justice for Regis Korchinski-Paquet Fundraiser: link
  • Minnesota Freedom Fund: link
  • Brooklyn Community Bail Fund: link
  • Thread of additional bail funds in major U.S. cities: link

Recs for Poetry written by AAPI Authors

Here is the link to my original 2018 post on recommendations for poetry written by AAPI authors: link.

Again, these are my recommendations for books that I’ve read and/or books that I want to read and are in no way a comprehensive list of the number of English-language novels written by authors of Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry.

Some websites and posts that I recommend checking out if your are looking for even more recommendations for books written by authors of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and/or prominently feature characters of Asian and Pacific Islander descent are:

The Recommendations:

Wild Embers: Poems of Rebellion, Fire and Beauty by Nikita Gill 

“You cannot burn away what has always be aflame.”

 In this collection, Gill explores the idea of the fires that live within every soul and charge that creates in us to go forth in search of empowerment and personal growth. The power and beauty of the collection is derived from Gill’s ability to weave together different words and sentences and draw on many feminist ideals. Wild Embers is one of her earlier collections and she’s written a few more since the book was initially published.

Antiemetic for Homesickness by Romalyn Ante

“A day will come when you won’t miss the country ‘na nagluwal sa ‘yo.”

In this luminous debut, Ante brings to life Filipino folklore and Tagalog as she builds a bridge between the country na nagluwal sa ‘yo – that gave birth to you – to a new life in another country. There is an earnest and aching beat in every poem that speaks to the need to assimilate and the complexities of belonging, all the while keeping alive what one left. It a collection that touches upon family, colonialism, heritage, and the places we call home. 

The collection is due out later this year at the end of July.

If They Come for Us by Fatimah Asghar 

In this powerful poetry debut, Asghar tackles what it is like to be a Pakistani Muslim woman in America today. She explores ideas of identity, violence, sexuality, race, and healing from a perspective that few have heard from a poet like her. She weaves together personal stories, stories from other marginalized groups into this bare and striking collection of poetry. Through the pages, Asghar confronts her fundamental understanding of belonging, identity, and space in the world.

The collection is not due out till the end of June 2020. 

Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre by Lois-Ann Yamanaka 

Yamanaka weaves together a fictional tale through poetic novellas in Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre. This is a collection grounded in Hawaiian culture and language. Yamanaka doesn’t shy away with the language of her work, she chooses instead to stun you and draw you the world she has created. 

Published in 1993, the collection is an older one but still scores an emotional impact that many new collections do today. 

Puna Wai Korero: An Anthology of Maori Poetry in English Edited by Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan 

Puna Wai Korero brings together the voices of numerous Maori poets in this collection. The voices included in the collection are diverse – from those in Aotearoa to those the voices of Maori living abroad, from new voices to some of Maori’s most celebrated like writer Witi Ihimaera. This is a collection that covers what it means to be Maori, their history and myths, and the reclamation of who they are as a people. This is a powerful collection and one not to be missed. 

Additional Recommendations:

Lucky Fish by Aimmee Nezhukumatathil

My Hope For Tomorrow by Ruby Dahl

I hope these recommendations help you find your next book written by an AAPI author. This is my last post in my updated series of books recommendations written by AAPI authors.

If you missed any of my recommendations for fiction, non-fiction, romance, YA, or SFF novels written by AAPI authors check them out here: fictionnon-fictionromanceYASFF, and graphic novels/comics.

If you’re out protesting, please stay safe and look out for one another!

Thanks for reading!


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