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We Animate This Life: A Celebration of Muriel Leung's Imagine Us, The Swarm

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A reading in celebration of Muriel Leung's Imagine Us, The Swarm, with Aurora Masum-Javed, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Wo Chan & Swati Khurana!

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Asian bodies have long been a source of Orientalist fascination, study, and display. In other words, Asian bodies as object, inanimate even as we live and breathe. From Afong Moy to the "Bengali wolf girls" Kamala and Amala, Asian bodies have been coded as "exotic" and "feral" among a slew of othering terms. Yet as we move through this tumultuous century full of new racialized challenges, what it means to be Asian or Asian American has become increasingly fraught against this cumulative history of performing for a colonial gaze. In this reading, writers Muriel Leung, Swati Khuarana, Aurora Masum-Javed, Wo Chan, and Kay Ulanday Barrett challenge this one-directional colonial gaze through performances that highlight a vibrant legacy of Asian and Asian American creative resistance. Through lyric essays, poems, snark, and memes, this reading will be a multimedia talkback to a history that makes Asian and American bodies object, insisting that "we animate this life" even as the world continues to contest this.

This reading will also be a celebration of the launch of Muriel Leung's IMAGINE US, THE SWARM (Nightboat Books).

About the readers:

Muriel Leung is the author of Imagine Us, The Swarm, forthcoming from Nightboat Books in 2021, and Bone Confetti, winner of the 2015 Noemi Press Book Award. She is a recipient of fellowships to Kundiman, VONA/Voices Workshop and the Community of Writers. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Gold Line Press and the Poetry Co-Editor of Apogee Journal. She also co-hosts The Blood-Jet Writing Hour Podcast with Rachelle Cruz and MT Vallarta. She is a member of Miresa Collective, a feminist speakers bureau. Currently, she is an Andrew W. Mellon Humanities in a Digital World fellow at the University of Southern California where she is completing her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature. She is from Queens, NY.

Aurora Masum-Javed is a poet, writing coach, and educator. A former public school teacher, she received her MFA from Cornell University, where she also served as a lecturer. She's received fellowships from MacDowell, Caldera, and Kundiman among others. A former Philip Roth Resident in Creative Writing and Hub City Writer in Residence, she is currently working on her first book and teaching in SC.

Kay Ulanday Barrett (@brownroundboi) is a poet, performer, and cultural strategist; their collection More Than Organs received a 2021 Stonewall Book Honor Award in Literature by the American Library Association and is a 2021 Lambda Literary Award Finalist. Barrett has featured at Lincoln Center, the United Nations, Symphony Space, the Poetry Foundation, Princeton University, and the Brooklyn Museum. They’ve received fellowships from MacDowell, Lambda Literary Review, Macondo, and VONA. Their contributions are found in The New York Times, Asian American Literary Review, them., NYLON, Vogue, Frontier Poetry, The Rumpus, RaceForward, Al Jazeera English, and more. Currently, they remix their mama's recipes in Jersey City with their jowly dog. www.kaybarrett.net

Wo Chan is a poet and drag performer. They are a winner of the 2020 Nightboat Poetry Prize and the author of TOGETHERNESS (2022). Wo has received fellowships from MacDowell, New York Foundation of the Arts, Kundiman, The Asian American Writers Workshop, Poets House, and Lambda Literary. Their poems appear in POETRY, WUSSY, Mass Review, No Tokens, and The Margins. As a member of the Brooklyn based drag/burlesque collective Switch N' Play, Wo has performed at The Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA PS1, National Sawdust, New York Live Arts and elsewhere. Wo works as the Communications Manager and Editor of the Lambda Literary Review. Find them at @theillustriouspearl

Swati Khurana is a New York-based writer, artist, arts organizer, and Tarot reader. Swati is AAWW The Margins Flash Fiction editor, writing a scripted audio series set in 1990s NYC and 1940s Lahore, and developing her podcast "Tarot For Us" which uses Tarot readings to have conversations, centering BIPOC women and non-binary artists, writers, and activists. Swati's writing has been featured in The New York Times, Guernica, Apogee, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Offing, The Rumpus, and in the anthology Good Girls Marry Doctors and the Asian American Literary Review's Book of Curses, and a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2019. You can follow Swati on Instagram at @tarotbooksradio or at www.swatikhurana.com

This event is funded in part by Poets & Writers through public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.


		We Animate This Life: A Celebration of Muriel Leung's Imagine Us, The Swarm image

		We Animate This Life: A Celebration of Muriel Leung's Imagine Us, The Swarm image
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