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“Oculus”: Poems by Sally Wen Mao

A brilliant second collection by Sally Wen Mao on the violence of the spectacle ― starring the film legend Anna May Wong

In Oculus, Sally Wen Mao explores exile not just as a matter of distance and displacement but as a migration through time and a reckoning with technology. The title poem follows a nineteen-year-old girl in Shanghai who uploaded her suicide onto Instagram.

Other poems cross into animated worlds, examine robot culture, and haunt a necropolis for electronic waste. A fascinating sequence spanning the collection speaks in the voice of the international icon and first Chinese American movie star Anna May Wong, who travels through the history of cinema with a time machine, even past her death and into the future of film, where she finds she has no progeny.

With a speculative imagination and a sharpened wit, Mao powerfully confronts the paradoxes of seeing and being seen, the intimacies made possible and ruined by the screen, and the many roles and representations that women of color are made to endure in order to survive a culture that seeks to consume them.

 

I will blow a hole

in the airwaves, duck lasers in my dugout.
I’m done kidding them. Today I fly
the hell out in my Chrono-Jet.

To the future, where I’m forgotten.

(from “Anna May Wong Fans Her Time Machine”)

 

“The poems in Oculus are rangy, protean, contradictory. They offer an alternative to the selfie, that static reduction of a person to her most photogenic poses.”— The New Yorker

Sally Wen Mao is the author of a previous poetry collection, Mad Honey Symposium. Her work has won a Pushcart Prize and fellowships at Kundiman, George Washington University, and the New York Public Library Cullman Center.

Oculus: Poems
by Sally Wen Mao (Author)
Paperback
96 pages
January 15, 2019
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Language: English
Subject: Poetry
ISBN-10: 1555978258
ISBN-13: 978-1555978259
Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.4 x 9.1 inches
$16.00

# more poetry
Sally Wen Mao
Oculus

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