The poem "How to Live in Southern California" by Shelley Wong, author of Rare Birds (2017), has been selected for Best American Poetry 2021 by guest editor Tracy K. Smith.
Stay in the car and move from one air-conditioned location
to another chill location, perhaps in a tour of movie theaters.
After a long winter back east, 76 percent of California's population
is facing abnormal dryness or drought. My family went
to Palos Verdes to look for gray whales, where the water was rough
and edged with mansions.
Listen to the forthcoming poem on Soundcloud below, originally published in Kenyon Review.
Shelley Wong is the author of As She Appears (YesYes Books, 2022), winner of the 2019 Pamet River Prize, and the chapbook RARE BIRDS (Diode Editions, 2017). She is an affiliate artist at Headlands Center for the Arts and lives in San Francisco.
Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review, and The New Republic and are forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2021 and They Rise Like A Wave: An Anthology of Asian American Women Poets (Blue Oak Press, 2021).
She has received a Pushcart Prize; fellowships and residencies from Kundiman, MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, I-Park Foundation, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Fire Island National Seashore, SPACE, Brown Handler Residency/Friends of San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), and RADAR/SFPL James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center; and commissions from Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Headlands Center for the Arts.
She has taught creative writing at the Ohio State University; led workshops for Asian Pacific Islander Equality Northern California, BreakBread Literacy Project, and University of California at San Francisco; and delivered the 2020 API Visiting Scholar lecture at Pasadena City College. She holds an MFA from the Ohio State University and a BA from UC Berkeley.