As an immigrant woman, an academic of diaspora studies, a white "other" in a sea of American whiteness, I navigate layers of difference at times as a deficit, at times as an excess, a surplus.
My poetry comes from my practice of "counterpoint": When my divergent, competing personal and cultural truths come into contact with one another, the continuing processes of resistance, adaptation and re-creation shift not only the existing power dynamics in which I exist, but also my creative processes. My poetry is a result of a constant, shifting, exhausting and yet rewarding process of "counterpoint", an alchemy, a (mis)translation. My poems manifest a quality of translation, which is both my curse and the lens through which I observe and make sense of the world, from a sideway outsider, suspicious insider space.
One of my favorite poets, Monica de la Torre, writes " That’s when I decide to stop fighting the city. Use it in my favor. Speak to strangers. Demolish the construct in the performance". Like hers, my poetry reflects the swinging pendulum that signals the strangeness I experience most days, my resistance to the pain as well as the agency the strangeness can yield to me, and my eventual surrendering to it with curiosity and compassion.
Poetry is both the tree under which I seek refuge and the storm and wildfire that threaten to destroy that tree.
As a poet I must be a trickster of my own limiting beliefs and fears; as a culture broker I must peel off my own fears before they translate into othering beliefs through which I pass judgment to the world. This conversation between the two worlds of the inner and outer is the raw material of my work.
Yet, the courage necessary to look within and without is premised by a felt sense of trust and safety that we can sustain that inquiry and survive to tell the tale - literally.
As long as I am able to speak and write in tongue, and keep any felt boundaries porous and growing around my body like plants, I have written myself safe.
Below is a taste of my poetry. Note that many of my more recent poems are offline due to a current process of revision for publication.