Celebrate the release of poetry collections A House Made of Water by MICHELLE LIN and Having a Coke of Godzilla by KAZUMI CHIN as they explore how a house of language may be built to exceed containment, transcend borders, and disrupt binaries. We will shape, together, what it means to be in relation to intersectional identities and languages, and move toward a radical new imagining of home. Our house exists in its being built. It is not one we belong to, but one we work toward.
KAZUMI CHIN lives in California, where he works to build loving communities with marginalized people, to put language to the mechanisms of structures and identities, and the create spaces and tools that allow others to do the same. He is interested in scholarship at the intersection of art-making and critical theory, and has a profound love for maps, spreadsheets, algorithms, taxonomies, simulations, and also poetry & the mythical power of true friendship.
MICHELLE LIN is a Kundiman poetry fellow. She has performed for Kearny Street Workshop’s APAture, grlhood--redefining the I // here I am, Litquake, and more. A former teacher for the Gluck Fellows Program for the Arts, Young Writer’s Institute, and University of Pittsburgh, she works at API Legal Outreach, empowering communities of color in the Bay Area. A former editor for journals Hot Metal Bridge, B.E. Quarterly, and Mosaic, she currently serves as Poetry Reader for Twelfth House Journal.
Praise for A House Made of Water:
A House Made of Water is a lyrical examination of daughterhood, womanhood, and Asian American identity. Elusive, but tactile, the collection wrestles beautifully with trauma and our inherited stories, seeking transformation throughout. What I love most is the intimacy of detail: the difficult weight of memory, the exquisite relief of disclosure. Lin’s debut is a document of deep feeling, in the vein of Li-Young Lee and Sylvia Plath, but told in a voice entirely her own.
- Cathy Linh Che
Home in A House Made of Water is mythical, cultural, and intimate. Michelle Lin writes like the daughter/exile of that home; someone both buoyed and drowned by its history. In one poem she conjures Aphrodite above the sea and the Little Mermaid beneath it. Another considers the various meanings of “chink.” Lin fuses an outsider’s longing and a native’s self-possession. She is at once spirited and restrained. Her poems are stunning visions of homesickness and escape.
- Terrance Hayes
In her titular poem, Michelle Lin writes: “For family, drag three dresses in a tub. Hang them up. Watch them fill with light.” Such is the experience of reading A House Made of Water: the poems here illuminate, with ecstatic precision and depth, the vagaries of family, alienation, the domestic, heartbreak, immigration history, and trauma—they swim deftly through waters “pearled/with grief.” The language enchants with the poet’s lyrical grip, elegiac yet alive: “My instinct with softness is/the same as any other’s—to touch or/to smother. Let me hold you.” These are haunting poems, and they are elevated by wonder, the permutations of pain and joy that make up the experience of living. In A House Made of Water, Michelle Lin has crafted an astonishing, shapeshifting debut.
- Sally Wen Mao
In Michelle Lin's gorgeous debut collection, A House Made of Water, we enter the language of the dream, as if dream-space could produce its own off lexicon, its own wave-like syntax. Lin's poetry is like a bright bloom after everything has been near dead for so long. If you want to be elevated, if you want to be transported away from the muck of the everyday and into what art can do--that bristling dimension--then read A House Made of Water. It just might save you.
- Dawn Lundy Martin
Praise for Having a Coke with Godzilla
What a progressive and transformative path Kazumi Chin clears in his debut collection, Having A Coke With Godzilla. With feminism, empathy, and solidarity, Chin’s poems assert at every turn that they weren’t made on their own. Poems like “Camp” and “With Lines From Stephanie, Kelly, Matt, Cam & Kim,” reveal a speaker who recognizes the lives and struggles of women and their allies as his struggles, too. Humor and defiance are at work in these poems that charm with humor and metaphor, but make plain their adversaries: “you’ve lived / your whole life taking away land and time / and wages and security and dignity… / yelling at people you don’t really see….” From Ariana Grande to the speaker’s beloved Michelle, these poems don’t flinch in their expressions of affinity and tenderness. They are love letters to the future, really, redefining what American masculinity can be. Even the poet’s grandmother-given name, is a testament to this change: “Kazu for peace… / “Mi, as in me, we, the river, the ocean, / endless. And she, the beauty / inside me.”
– Yona Harvey
These poems by Kazumi Chin learn to create intimacy and connection in the age of social media. They embrace the consumption of pop culture and reflect back how this country is experienced by those who are marginalized and oppressed. They understand history, the work of ancestry, but sit in the here and now, inside the dearth and speed of information and reaches out its hand. And in there may be a certain sadness but moreso a certain hope.
– Jason Bayani
Kazumi Chin is a genius.
– Bhanu Kapil