Tuesday, September 20 – Poet Kenji C. Liu


My guest this week is Kenji C. Liu, winner of the inaugural Hillary Gravendky Prize of the Inlandia Institute for his collection Map of an Onion.  Liu is widely published, with work included in anthologies and literary journals including The American Poetry Review, Action Yes!, Asian American Literary Review, Barrow Street Journal and more.  He is also author of the poetry chapbook You Left Without Your Shoes.  A recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, VONA/Voices, Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and Community of Writers, he holds an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Social Transformation. Among Luiu’s fans are poets Don Mee Choi and poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, who hails Map of an Onion as a “groundbreaking giant.” The volume’s poems, mostly short, suggest a documentary, autobiographical, fragmented,and carefully eclectic mapping of circumstance and identity characterized by a fascination with language and form, and the understanding — and misunderstanding! — of definition, syntax and experience. They are defined by a fascination with history and offer an unshy negative critique of colonialism, but with irony and wit and an implied asking for better.