For Asian American poets, what is the relationship between bearing witness to history and giving voice to marginalized communities? At the 2019 AWP Conference and Bookfair held in Portland in March, AAWW hosted a panel titled Poets vs. Community vs. History, moderated by Marci Calabretto Cancio-Bello with E.J. Koh, Yanyi, Emily Jungmin Yoon, & Monica Sok. These multidisciplinary writers talk about how their work as poets, editors, translators, and scholars allows them to uncover intimacies among seemingly disparate colonial histories, and contextualize narratives of intergenerational trauma. They draw on their varied practices to explore how the individual pursuits of poets can build empathy and community.


E.J. Koh is the author of A Lesser Love, awarded the Pleiades Editors Prize, and her memoir The Magical Language of Others. Koh has accepted fellowships from the American Literary Translators Association, MacDowell Colony, and elsewhere.

Yanyi is a poet and critic. The recipient of fellowships from Poets House and Asian American Writers' Workshop, his debut collection The Year of Blue Water was recently released in March. He serves as associate editor at Foundry.

Emily Jungmin Yoon is the author of A Cruelty Special to Our Species and Ordinary Misfortunes, winner of the Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize. A PhD student at the University of Chicago, she is the poetry editor for the Asian American Writers' Workshop.

Monica Sok is the author of Year Zero. Her work has been recognized with a 2018 "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Prize. She has been awarded fellowships from Hedgebrook, Jerome Foundation, Kundiman, and NEA among others. She is a 2018–2020 Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello is the author of Hour of the Ox, winner of the Donald Hall Poetry Prize and a Florida Book Award Bronze Medal. She has received fellowships from Kundiman and the American Literary Translators Association, and serves as a program coordinator for Miami Book Fair.

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