As National Poetry Month comes to an end and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month begins, UC Press is spotlighting Asian American poetry titles and Chinese American Voices, which includes primary documents and poems by Chinese Americans.

by Myung Mi Kim

Myung Mi Kim’s Commons weighs on the most sensitive of scales the minute grains of daily life in both peace and war, registering as very few works of literature have done our common burden of being subject to history. Abstracting colonization, war, immigration, disease, and first-language loss until only sparse phrases remain, Kim takes on the anguish and displacement of those whose lives are embedded in history.

Commons’s fragmented lyric pushes the reader to question the construction of the poem. Identity surfaces, sinks back, then rises again. On this shifting ground, Kim creates meaning through juxtaposed fragments. Her verse, with its stops and starts, its austere yet rich images, offers splinters of testimony and objection. It negotiates a constantly changing world, scavenging through scraps of experience, spaces around words, and remnants of emotion for a language that enfolds the enormity of what we cannot express.

Read an excerpt from Commons

I Love Artists
New and Selected Poems

by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

Drawing on four decades of work and including new poems published here for the first time, this selection of Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s poetry displays the extraordinary luminosity characteristic of her style—its delicate, meticulous observation, great scenic imagination, and unusual degree of comfort with states of indetermination, contingency, and flux.

Read an excerpt from I Love Artists

Chinese American Voices
From the Gold Rush to the Present

by Judy Yung, Gordon Chang, Him Mark Lai

This superb anthology, a diverse and illuminating collection of primary documents and stories by Chinese Americans, provides an intimate and textured history of the Chinese in America from their arrival during the California Gold Rush to the present. Among the documents are letters, speeches, testimonies, oral histories, personal memoirs, poems, essays, and folksongs; many have never been published before or have been translated into English for the first time. 

This anthology includes Songs of Gold Mountain Wives; a poem about Angel Island detention published in Chinese World newspaper; and poetry by Kitty Tsui, a community activist and Chinese American lesbian who wrote The Words of a Woman Who Breathes Fire (1983).

Read poems from Chinese American Voices