top of page
March 31, 2022
8 p.m. EDT virtual event
featuring poetry readings from special guests
Shelley Wong, I.S. Jones, Juliana Chang,
& the author, Stephanie Niu
ABOUT THE BOOK
In her debut chapbook She Has Dreamt Again of Water, Stephanie Niu imagines the deep sea as sanctuary. Her poems seek solace from generational guilt and a fractured family by diving into dreamscapes where gills grow as easily as wings. Here, the world shimmers with small, stunning miracles: a fish that looks like light, a river delta seen from the moon, a single coyote in the road. In the search for sanctuary, "There is no split, a real self and a dream self / to divide neatly. There are just dreams.” Even upon waking, “she does not weep. She has dreamt again / of water, that place where the river / meets the sea, where long-legged birds / tiptoe through the cordgrass, dipping / their heads to feed." In these poems, the surreal and unseen suggest the shapes of shared longing.
Shelley Wong is the author of As She Appears (YesYes Books, May 2022), winner of the 2019 Pamet River Prize. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, Kenyon Review, and New England Review. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from Kundiman, MacDowell, and Vermont Studio Center. She is an affiliate artist at Headlands Center for the Arts and lives in San Francisco.
Shelley Wong’s debut, As She Appears, foregrounds queer women of color in their being and becoming. Following the end of a relationship that was marked by silence, a woman crosses over and embodies the expanse of desire and self-love. Other speakers transform the natural world and themselves, using art and beauty as a means of sanctuary and subversion. With both praise and precision, Wong considers how women inhabit and remake their environment. The ecstatic joys of Pride dances and late-night Chinatown meals, conversations with Frida Kahlo, trees that “burst into glamour,” and layers of memory permeate these poems as they travel through suburban California, perfumed fashion runways, to a Fire Island summer. Wong writes in the space where so many do not appear as an invitation for queer women of color to arrive in love, exactly as they are.
I.S. Jones is an American / Nigerian poet, essayist, and music journalist. She is a Graduate Fellow with The Watering Hole and holds fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT Writer’s Retreat, and Brooklyn Poets. I.S. hosts a month-long, online poetry workshop every April called The Singing Bullet. She is the co-editor of The Young African Poets Anthology: The Fire That Is Dreamed Of (Agbowó, 2020) and served as the inaugural nonfiction guest editor for Lolwe. She is an Editor at 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, freelanced for Complex, Revolt TV, NBC News THINK, and elsewhere. Her works have appeared or is forthcoming in Guernica, Washington Square Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hobart, LA Review of Books, The Rumpus, The Offing, Transition, Shade Literary Arts, Blood Orange Review, Honey Literary and elsewhere. Her poem “Vanity” was chosen by Khadijah Queen as a finalist for the 2020 Sublingua Prize for Poetry. She received her MFA in Poetry at UW–Madison where she was the inaugural 2019–2020 Kemper K. Knapp University Fellowship and is the 2021-2022 Hoffman Hall Emerging Artist Fellowship recipient. She is the Director of the Watershed Reading Series with Art + Literature Laboratory, a community-driven contemporary arts center in Madison, Wisconsin. Her chapbook Spells of My Name (2021) is out with Newfound.
Spells of my Name speaks to the power of naming as an act of reclamation, making peace with the past to find a window to the future. I.S. Jones is in awe of bodies and opening the body into a new language, probing the micro histories of the heart and asking urgent questions, like: ‘Why do any of us return / to that which has promised to slaughter us?’ Navigating sexuality, memory, and identity is a voice torn into multiple selves. This fracturing is full of diversions and sharp bends—a black fawn that the speaker transforms into as she bounds and leaps between poems while being chased by the faceless hunter. Jones searches for home, a place wherever “memory takes mercy on me.” Spells of My Name is unflinching, confessional, timely, and fluid with grace.
Juliana Chang is a Taiwanese American poet. She is the 2019 recipient of the Urmy/Hardy Poetry Prize, the 2017 recipient of the Wiley Birkhofer Poetry Prize, and a 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Gold Medalist in Poetry.
Her debut poetry chapbook, Inheritance, was the winner of the 2020 Vella Prize and published with Paper Nautilus Press in 2021. Juliana’s work appears or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, The Chestnut Review, diode poetry journal, Burningword Literary Magazine, and other journals.
Juliana received a BA in Linguistics and a MA in Sociology from Stanford University in 2019. She is currently a first year law student at Harvard Law School, where she is a 2021 National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Presidential Scholar.
"This admirable debut volume of poems speaks to the many complex legacies of the immigrant psyche: those of language, of longing, of unspoken traumas and unlikely joys. These vivid tableaus, ranging from girlhood to womanhood, reveal a young writer of great empathy and discernment, and invite us to join in the redemptive act of wonderment." —Chang-rae Lee, author of Native Speaker
Stephanie Niu is a poet from Marietta, GA. She earned her degrees in symbolic systems and computer science from Stanford University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Georgia Review, Southeast Review, Poets Readings the News, and Storm Cellar, as well as scientific collaborations including the 11th Annual St. Louis River Summit. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Award for work on decolonizing historical narratives of overseas Chinese laborers through digital techniques. She lives in New York City.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR
SHE HAS DREAMT AGAIN OF WATER
In She Has Dreamt Again of Water, Stephanie Niu’s brisk, imaginative poems name the fraught distances between daughter and family, self and memory, place and displacement. These are poems of inheritance and love written in a deft care, by a crystalline eye. What a striking debut to behold, one launching a life of poetry to follow.
—Solmaz Sharif, author of Look and Customs
Like a blast of seawater, Niu’s poems cleanse, refresh, and brace the reader. On dreams, Niu writes, “There is no split, a real self and a dream self / to divide neatly.” On scuba diving, “Everything is worthy / of devotion.” And though the sea binds this collection, it is the steadfastly real mother, and not the myth of the mother, who inhabits these poems. “Look what I do for you,” she says. “Even [a] skeleton becomes home,” murmurs Niu in response. Such exquisite, clear-eyed poems, they are an exultation of the natural world we will likely lose, and the intimacy that we may yet preserve.
—Esther Lin, author of The Ghost Wife
In her dazzling debut chapbook, She Has Dreamt Again of Water, Stephanie Niu dives into the depths of myth, family origin, and migration with tender, lyrical poems of remarkable craft, taking us on an expansive search for home. Bodies of water ebb and flow throughout, carrying the reader from Georgia to Michigan, from China to Christmas Island, as the speaker works to reclaim a primary world where “everything is worthy / of devotion.” Niu is a revelation, and her clear-eyed poems hum with elemental power.
—Kai Carlson-Wee, author of Rail
bottom of page