"Space Library," illustration by Lance Miyamoto, Science Magazine (1981)
Over the past week and a half, we've been gathering images of POC writers and their libraries, as well as asking readers and writers of color to contribute their thoughts on the importance of building a personal library and how books by other POC writers have impacted their lives.
The following is a showcase of those images and tweets we've received. If you'd like your comments or "shelfie" to be included, feel free to contact us.
Thank you to Kazim Ali, Francisco Aragón, Jackson Bliss, Genève Chao, Shu-Ling Chua, Oliver de la Paz, M. Evelina Galang, Nathania Gilson, Jenna Le, Gemma Mahadeo, Meera (@ashmeera101), and Brian W. Parker for sharing your thoughts and glimpses into your libraries.
Neil Aitken is the author of two books of poetry, Babbage's Dream (Sundress, 2017) and The Lost Country of Sight (Anhinga, 2008), winner of the Philip Levine Prize. His chapbook, Leviathan (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2016), won an Elgin Prize for science fiction poetry. Of Chinese, Scottish, and English ancestry, he was born in Vancouver, BC, Canada, grew up in Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and western Canada, and was raised by librarian parents. He worked for several years as a computer games programmer before switching fields to pursue an MFA at UC Riverside and a PhD in literature & creative writing at the University of Southern California. He is the founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review, curator of Have Book Will Travel, and co-director of De-Canon. He also is the host of The Lit Fantastic, a podcast turned radio show about writers and their obsessions. (www.neil-aitken.com)
Kazim Ali was born in the United Kingdom to Muslim parents of Indian, Iranian and Egyptian descent. He received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Albany-SUNY, and an M.F.A. from New York University. His books encompass several volumes of poetry, including Sky Ward, winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry; The Far Mosque, winner of Alice James Books’ New England/New York Award; The Fortieth Day; All One’s Blue; and the cross-genre text Bright Felon. His novels include the recently published The Secret Room: A String Quartet and among his books of essays is Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice. Ali is an associate professor of Creative Writing and Comparative Literature at Oberlin College. His new book of poems, Inquisition, and a new hybrid memoir, Silver Road: Essays, Maps & Calligraphies, will both be released in 2018. (http://www.kazimali.com)
Francisco Aragón is the author of the poetry collections Puerta del Sol (Bilingual Press) and Glow of Our Sweat (Scapegoat Press). He is also the editor of the award-winning anthology The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press). His poems and commentary on poetry have appeared in a range of anthologies and journals, including Crab Orchard Review,Great River Review, Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas, Notre Dame Review, Pilgrimage, and the website of the Poetry Foundation, among others. Since 2004, Aragón has directed the Institute’s literary initiative, Letras Latinas, whose programs are national in scope. His activities in the literary field include serving on the board of trustees of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) from 2008-2012. In 2010 the American Association for Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) honored him with their Outstanding Latino/a Cultural Arts and Publication Award. Aragón teaches courses in Latino poetry and poetry writing, and oversees the Institute’s Cross Cultural Leadership Internship Program (CCLIP) in Washington, D.C., where he is based in the spring and summer. For more information, visit: http://franciscoaragon.net
Jackson Bliss (@jacksonbliss)
Jackson Kanahashi Bliss is the author of the electronic novella/literary hypertext, Dukkha, My Love. He is a hapa(non) fiction writer and an interdisciplinary scholar. Obsessed with tea, dream pop, high-speed trains, coming-of-age novels, the perfect tat, cafés, tight jeans, マンガ (manga), vinyl, and video game gender constructions, Jackson is a bad Nisei. Jackson has a BA in comparative literature from Oberlin College and a MFA in fiction from the University of Notre Dame where he was the Fiction Fellow and the 2007 Sparks Prize winner. He also has a MA in English and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California where he worked with Aimee Bender, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and TC Boyle on an interdisciplinary dissertation about narrative mediation, gender performance, and cultural compartmentalization in contemporary Asian American literature in addition to an intersecting coming-of-age novel about love and racial self-discovery called Ninjas of My Greater Self. (http://www.jacksonbliss.com)
Geneva/Genève Chao has a B.A. in French Translation and Literature from Barnard College and an MA/MFA from San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing program. Her poems and translations have been published in Boxkite, Can We Have Our Ball Back?, (Satellite) Telephone, n/a literary journal, New American Writing, DIAGRAM, the L.A. Telephone Book, The Best American Experimental Writing, and others. Her book one of us is wave one of us is shore (Otis Books | Seismicity Editions, 2016) was also a finalist for the Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. Her translations of Gérard Cartier’s Tristran and Nicolas Tardy’s (with François Luong) Encrusted on the Living have appeared from [lx] press. She is the author of Hillary Is Dreaming (Make Now) and the forthcoming émigré (Tinfish) and has twice been a Tamaas resident for work on the intersectionality of language/poetry and dance/the body. (www.genevachao.com)
Shu-Ling Chua (@hellopollyanna)
Shu-Ling Chua is a Melbourne-based writer. Her work has appeared in Feminartsy, The Writers Bloc, Peril Magazine, Seizure, The Lifted Brow and other publications and was highly commended in the 2017 Feminartsy Memoir Prize. Shu-Ling was previously producer of Noted Writers Festival and Voiceworks nonfiction editor, and selected for the 2015 HARDCOPY manuscript development program. She has appeared as an artist at Emerging Writers' Festival, National Young Writers' Festival, You Are Here and Noted Writers Festival.
Oliver de la Paz
Oliver de la Paz is the author of four collections of poetry, Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby (SIU Press 2001, 2007), and Requiem for the Orchard (U. of Akron Press 2010), winner of the Akron Prize for poetry chosen by Martìn Espada, and Post Subject: A Fable (U. of Akron Press 2014). He is the co-editor with Stacey Lynn Brown of A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry (U. of Akron Press 2012). He co-chairs the advisory board of Kundiman, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Asian American Poetry and serves on the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Board of Trustees. A recipient of a NYFA Fellowship Award and a GAP Grant from Artist Trust, his work has appeared in journals like Virginia Quarterly Review, North American Review, Tin House, Chattahoochee Review, and in anthologies such as Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation. He teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and in the Low-Residency MFA Program at Pacific Lutheran University. (http://www.oliverdelapaz.com)
Camille T. Dungy is the author of four collections of poetry: Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), Smith Blue (Southern Illinois UP, 2011), Suck on the Marrow (Red Hen Press, 2010), and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (Red Hen Press, 2006). Her debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017). Dungy edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (UGA, 2009), co-edited the From the Fishouse poetry anthology (Persea, 2009), and served as associate editor for Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade(University of Michigan Press, 2006).
Her honors include an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, two NAACP Image Award nominations, and a California Book Award silver medal. She is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Sustainable Arts Foundation, The Diane Middlebrook Residency Fellowship of the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and other organizations. Her poems and essays have been published in Best American Poetry, The 100 Best African American Poems, nearly thirty other anthologies, and over one hundred print and online journals. Dungy is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University. (http://camilledungy.com)
M. Evelina Galang
M. Evelina Galang has been named one of the 100 most influential Filipinas in the United States and at-large by the Filipina Women’s Network. She is the author of the story collection Her Wild American Self (Coffee House Press), novels One Tribe (New Issues Press), and Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery (Coffee House Press), and the editor of Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press). Her creative nonfiction work documenting the testimonies of WWII “comfort women,” Lolas’ House: Filipino Women Living with War (Curbstone Books/NUP), is due for release September 15, 2017. Among her numerous awards are the 2004 Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Prize for the Novel, the 2007 Global Filipino Literary Award for One Tribe, the 2004 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Awards Advancing Human Rights, and a 2002 Senior Research Fellowship from Fulbright. Galang directs the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Miami and is core faculty and board member of Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA/Voices). (http://www.mevelinagalang.com)
Nathania Gilson (@unicornology)
Nathania Gilson is a writer, editor and multimedia producer. She grew up in the Middle East, and also in Melbourne, Australia. She has trained as a filmmaker at Swinburne University, as a digital marketer at General Assembly, and as a writer and editor at RMIT. Her writing has been published by Junkee Media, Overland and Kill Your Darlings, The Lifted Brow, Meanjin and others.
New-Hampshire-based Vietnamese American Jenna Le has a B.A. in mathematics and an M.D. She is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011), which was an SPD Poetry Bestseller, and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Anchor & Plume Press, 2016), which won 2nd Place in the 2017 Elgin Awards. (https://jennalewriting.com
Gemma Mahadeo is a Melbourne-based writer and performer, whose family emigrated to Australia from the UK in 1987. Her poetry has appeared in national print and online journals such as Cordite, Going Down Swinging, and Tincture, and recent work can be found in Froth Magazine, Pencilled In, and Concrete Queers. Twitter/Instagram: @snarkattack / @eatdrinkstagger.
Brian W. Parker (@BelieveinWonder)
Brian W. Parker grew up in Alaska, then Mississippi, and has always been in love with storytelling in every medium. He has a BFA in graphic design and illustration, as well as an MA in writing and publishing, and has worked as a graphic designer and illustrator for almost 15 years in music publishing, corporate marketing, and sports/entertainment.
He now works in youth publishing and teaches the creative process. Previous works include Crow in the Hollow, his first novel length work, ten picture books, and a self published graphic novel series titled You Can Rely On Platypi. His most recent work is YA fantasy novel, The Wonderous Science. (http://www.believeinwonder.com)