Sally Wen Mao Reads April 24 in the JMM Reading Series

Poet Sally Wen Mao
Reads April 24
Poet Sally Wen Mao treats words like clay.  She molds them into new ideas, even as they retain their  original meaning. Language is shaped and adapted in her hands.  She also plays with a variety of forms, including field notes, and travelogues. The results are original, ironic and fresh.   Her debut work, Mad Honey Symposium was described by Publishers Weekly as “linguistically dexterous and formally astute” with a strong connection to varied sources including “news clippings, Greek and Roman history, and Chinese myths” and maintains a “rich, deliberate emotionality and musicality.”
Mao was born in Wuhan, China and raised in Boston. Her work has been featured in Colorado Review, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Third Coast, West Branch, Washington Square, Poetry, The Missouri Review, Black Warrior Review and other publications.  She is the winner of the 2012 Kinereth Gensler Award and a Publishers Weekly Top Ten  Pick of Fall 2014.  Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2013 and she has received fellowships from Kundiman, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Hedgebrook, and Saltonstall Foundation.  She is currently a professor of Asian American Poetics at Hunter College.
Mao is the Jenny McKean Moore author for April.  The GW English Department will be hosting a reading by her in Gelman, Room 702 on Friday, April 24 at 7:30 pm. 

 Here is an example of her work:
Lessons on Lessening
In the rigmarole of lucky living, you tire
of the daily lessons: Sewing, Yoga, Captivity.
Push the lesson inside the microwave.
Watch it plump and pop and grow larval
with losses. Watch it shrink like shrikes
when they dodge out of this palatial
doom.  On the sky’s torn hemline, this horizon,
make a wish on Buddha’s foot.  How to halve,
but not to have–how to spare someone
of suffering, how to throw away the spare
key saved for a lover that you don’t
have, save yourself from the burning turret
with the wind of your own smitten hip.
Do you remember how girlhood was–a bore
born inside you, powerless?  How you made
yourself winner by capturing grasshoppers
and skewering them?  You washed a family
of newts in the dry husked summer, wetted
them with cotton swabs before the vivisection.
That’s playing God: to spare or not to spare.
In the end you chose mercy, and dropped
each live body into the slime-dark moat.
Today is a study in being a loser.  The boyfriend
you carved out of lard and left in the refrigerator
overnight between the milk and chicken breasts.
Butcher a bed, sleep in its wet suet for a night.
Joke with a strumpet, save the watermelon
rinds for the maids to fry in their hot saucepans.
Open your blouse and find the ladybugs
sleeping in your navel.  Open your novel
to the chapter where the floe cracks and kills
the cynget.  Study hard, refute your slayer.

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