The Poetry Society of America Presents: A Tribute to the Poet Ai

Posted in Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2015-10-19 19:06Z by Steven

The Poetry Society of America Presents: A Tribute to the Poet Ai

Proshansky Auditorium
CUNY Graduate Center
365 5th Avenue (at 34th Street)
New York, New York 10016
Monday, 2015-10-19 19:00 EDT (Local Time)


In light of the poet’s unexpected passing in 2010 and in celebration of her Collected Poems (Norton, 2012), the PSA has teamed up with the Academy of American Poets, Cave Canem Foundation, Graduate Center for the Humanities, CUNY, Kundiman, and Poets House to present this memorial tribute. Nine distinguished contemporary poets—Timothy Donnelly, Rigoberto González, Tyehimba Jess, Patricia Spears Jones, Yusef Komunyakaa, Timothy Liu, Sapphire, and Susan Wheeler—will read from Ai’s work, and House of Cards actor Eisa Davis will perform a selection of Ai’s well-known dramatic monologues.

Admission is free.

For more information, click here.

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The Collected Poems of Ai

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Poetry on 2014-05-08 19:42Z by Steven

The Collected Poems of Ai

W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
February 2013
464 pages
6.6 × 9.6 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-07490-1


With an Introduction by:

Yusef Komunyakaa, Global Distinguished Professor of English
New York University

Before her untimely death in 2010, Ai, known for her searing dramatic monologues, was hailed as “one of the most singular voices of her generation” (New York Times Book Review). Now for the first time, all eight books by this essential and uniquely American poet have been gathered in one volume.

from “The Cockfighter’s Daughter”

I found my father,
face down, in his homemade chili
and had to hit the bowl
with a hammer to get it off,
then scrape the pinto beans
and chunks of ground beef
off his face with a knife.

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Ai Means Love

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2013-03-29 18:01Z by Steven

Ai Means Love

The Kenyon Review

Tamiko Beyer

Last week, the poet Ai passed away, unexpectedly. She was one of the first poets I read when I started studying poetry, and I have always admired the fierce bravery of her work.

From her poems, I learned about the poetic possibilities of the persona. I learned from the way she inhabited multiple voices with compassion and clarity, how she explored deep and often uncomfortable human truths. She did not turn away; she compelled us not to turn away.

I found out about her death, as I did Lucille Clifton’s recent passing, from a post on Facebook. But on the whole, the poetry world seems to have taken little notice.

This lack of discussion and celebration of Ai’s work is striking, especially compared to the outpouring that came after Clifton’s death.

I wonder if it has something to do with Ai’s insistence on the integrity of her multiracial identity. Identifying as Japanese, Choctaw-Chickasaw, Black, Irish, Southern Cheyenne, and Comanche, she refused to align herself with just one part of her racial identity. This put her on perpetual borderlands of identity politics, and she knew it:

“I wish I could say that race isn’t important. But it is. More than ever, it is a medium of exchange, the coin of the realm with which one buys one’s share of jobs and social position. This is a fact which I have faced and must ultimately transcend.” – (from

Indeed, the Asian American poetry community did not claim her as one of our own. I once came across a mimeographed collection of Asian American women’s writing printed in the Bay Area in the late 70’s or early 80’s. One article listed all the Asian American women writers active at that that time, and I remember that Ai was included on the list, but with a kind of reluctance. Because she did not specifically address Asian-American themes, there was a question as to whether or not she could be called an Asian American poet. (If I remember correctly, there was a similar discussion in the article about Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge and her work.)…

Read the entire article here.

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Intersecting Circles: The Voices of Hapa Women in Poetry and Prose

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Poetry, Women on 2013-02-18 00:15Z by Steven

Intersecting Circles: The Voices of Hapa Women in Poetry and Prose

Bamboo Ridge Press
396 pages
Paperback ISBN-10: 0910043590; ISBN-13: 978-0910043595

Edited by:

Marie Hara

Nora Okja Keller

This book is out of print.

In this collection of poetry, prose, and personal essay, both new and well-known women authors of mixed race ancestry examine history, culture, and identity using insight from the female psyche. Featured are writings by Ai, Cristina Bacchilega, Kathy Dee Kaleokealoha Kaloloahilani Banggo, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Debra Kang Dean, Kiana Houghtailing Davenport, Jessica Hagedorn, Kimiko Hahn, Velina Hasu Houston, Cathy Kanoelani Ikeda, Carolyn Lei-lanilau, Susan Miho Nunes, Sigrid Nunez, Mindy Eun Soo Pennybacker, Michelle Cruz Skinner, Cathy Song, Adrien Tien, Kathleen Tyau, and twenty-five other writers.

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Ai, a Steadfast Poetic Channel of Hard Lives, Dies at 62

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2012-10-13 15:10Z by Steven

Ai, a Steadfast Poetic Channel of Hard Lives, Dies at 62

The New York Times

Margalit Fox

The prominent American poet Ai, whose work — known for its raw power, jagged edges and unflinching examination of violence and despair — stood as a damning indictment of American society, died on March 20 in Stillwater, Okla. She was 62 and lived in Stillwater.

The cause was pneumonia, a complication of previously undiagnosed cancer, said Carol Moder, head of the English department at Oklahoma State University, where Ai had taught since 1999.

Born Florence Anthony, the poet legally changed her name to Ai, which means love in Japanese, as a young woman. She received a National Book Award in 1999 for “Vice: New and Selected Poems,” published that year by W. W. Norton & Company.

Her other books include “Sin” (1986), “Fate” (1991), “Greed” (1993) and “Dread” (2003). A posthumous volume, “No Surrender,” is to be published by Norton in September…

…Though Ai’s work was determinedly not autobiographical, its concern with disenfranchised people was informed, she often said, by her own fractional heritage. Many poems could be read as biting dissertations “On Being 1/2 Japanese, 1/8 Choctaw, 1/4 Black, and 1/16 Irish,” as the title of a 1978 essay she wrote in Ms. magazine put it. (The proportions are telling, too, for not quite adding up to a complete person.)…

…Florence Anthony was born in 1947 in Albany, Tex., and reared mostly in Arizona by her mother and stepfather. For years her biological father’s identity was kept from her. She later learned, as she wrote in an autobiographical essay in the reference work Contemporary Poets, that “I am the child of a scandalous affair my mother had with a Japanese man she met at a streetcar stop.”…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Special Issue: Mixed Heritage Asian American Literature

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2012-10-12 02:38Z by Steven

Special Issue: Mixed Heritage Asian American Literature

Asian American Literature: Discourses & Pedagogies
Volume 3 (2012): Special Issue: Mixed Heritage Asian American Literature

Table of Contents

Read the entire issue here.

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