Wisconsin Poetry Series
Ronald Wallace and Sean Bishop, Series Editors
“A vivid and electric collection that ranges from surrealist alter-ego poems that vivisect the fetishization of Asian femininity to narrative poems that recount the absurd and tender contradictions of a Chinese childhood in the Midwest. Duan offers poetry that is outsized with lyrical rage and heart.”
In her stunning second collection, Carlina Duan illuminates unabashed odes to lineage, small and sacred moments of survival, and the demand to be fully seen “spangling with light.” Tracing familial lore and love, Duan reflects on the experience of growing up as a diasporic, bilingual daughter of immigrants, exploring the fraught complexities of identity, belonging, and linguistic reclamation. Alien Miss brings forth beautifully powerful voices: immigrants facing the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first Chinese American woman to vote, and matriarchal ancestors. The poems in this ambitious collection are immersed in the knotted blood of sisterhood, both celebrating and challenging conceptions of inheritance and homeland.
I browse through
archives full of men and women with long black hair,
throwing themselves into the land. thread of grass. thread
of immaculate touch. paper son, or paper
daughter. my own papers marked with wings, the pointed
tip of an eagle’s beak. here, I’m made prey.
I pledge allegiance.
—Excerpt from “Alien Miss Confronts the Author”
“Duan's lyric emerges out of a community's collective will to live and insists that poems are made of such legacies of loss, invention, memory, tatter. She finds an utterance that is perhaps vital to her, and is, yes, certainly vital to me. Such a work is a reminding, and such a re-minding is enormous.”
—Aracelis Girmay, author of Kingdom Animalia
“This is a stunning book of family histories and family portraits, belonging and unbelonging. These poems are a world I can't wait to return to, over and over again.”
—Safia Elhillo, author of The January Children