We're pleased to welcome Jennifer Huang to our At Home with Literati Series to celebrate the launch of Return Flight. They will be joined by readers Cindy Tran, Carlina Duan, Lauren Shapiro, and a musical performance by Camilo Estrada.
Click here to join the webinar event on 1/18. No pre-registration required!
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About the book: Selected by Jos Charles as the winner of the 2021 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry, Return Flight is a lush reckoning: with inheritance, with body, with trauma, with desire--and with the many tendons in between.
When Return Flight asks "what name / do you crown yourself," Huang answers with many. Textured with mountains--a folkloric goddess-prison, Yushan, mother, men, self--and peppered with shapeshifting creatures, spirits, and gods, the landscape of Jennifer Huang's poems is at once mystical and fleshy, a "myth a mess of myself." Sensuously, Huang depicts each of these not as things to claim but as topographies to behold and hold.
Here, too, is another kind of mythology. Set to the music of "beating hearts / through objects passed down," the poems travel through generations--among Taiwan, China, and America--cataloging familial wounds and beloved stories. A grandfather's smile shining through rain, baby bok choy in a child's bowl, a slap felt decades later--the result is a map of a present-day life, reflected through the past.
Return Flight is a thrumming debut that teaches us how history harrows and heals, often with the same hand; how touch can mean "purple" and "blue" as much as it means intimacy; and how one might find a path toward joy not by leaving the past in the past, but by "[keeping a] hand on these memories, / to feel them to their ends."
Jennifer Huang was born in Maryland to Taiwanese immigrants and has since called many places her home. Their poems have appeared in POETRY, The Rumpus, and Narrative Magazine, among other places; and they have been received recognition from the Academy of American Poets, Brooklyn Poets, North American Taiwan Studies Association, and more. In 2020, Jennifer earned their MFA in poetry at the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers' Program. They live in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Lauren Shapiro is the author of Arena (CSU Poetry Center, 2020), listed as a top poetry book of 2020 in The New York Times, and Easy Math (Sarabande, 2013), which was the winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize and the Debut-litzer Prize for Poetry. With Kevin González, she co-edited The New Census: An Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry (Rescue Press, 2013). She has translated poetry and prose from Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese, and Arabic into English and is currently translating a full-length collection of poetry by the Puerto Rican poet Zaira Pacheco. Shapiro is an associate professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.
Camilo Estrada (he/him) is honored to be performing for you all for Jennifer’s new book launch! Having studied classical music and voice since the age of 11, Camilo has now moved on to putting his love of music into ukelele covers and originals. He holds his BFA in Vocal Performance from Carnegie Mellon University where he first became friends with the author but has since moved to Brooklyn, NY. Previously, Camilo could be seen performing in new works and operettas throughout the NYC area as well as touring with the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players around the country however, in more recent years, he has focused his career towards the service industry with the hopes of one day owning his own bar. Camilo would like to send a warm hug and congratulations to Jennifer Huang for all their hard work and efforts and wishes them the best of luck with the book launch!