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About this poet

Born in 1974 in Chicago to a Filipina mother and Malayali Indian father, Aimee Nezhukumatathil is known for writing poems that sit at the intersection of three cultures: Filipino, Indian, and American. She received her BA in English and MFA in poetry and creative nonfiction from Ohio State University in Columbus.

Nezhukumatathil is the author of three poetry collections: Lucky Fish (Tupelo Press, 2011), winner of the 2011 Eric Hoffer Grand Prize; At the Drive-In Volcano (Tupelo Press, 2007), winner of the Balcones Poetry Prize; and Miracle Fruit (Tupelo Press, 2003), winner of the Global Filipino Award and the Tupelo Press Prize, as selected by Gregory Orr.

Bright and accessible, Nezhukumatathil’s poems are full of colors, foods, and landscapes plucked from each of her cultural influences and are tinged with joy. Naomi Shihab Nye writes, “Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poems are as ripe, funny and fresh as a precious friendship. They’re the fullness of days, deliciously woven of heart and verve, rich with sources and elements—animals, insects, sugar, cardamom, legends, countries, relatives, soaps, fruits—taste and touch. I love the nubby layerings of lines, luscious textures and constructions. Aimee writes with a deep resonance of spirit and sight. She’s scared of nothing. She knows that many worlds may live in one house. Poems like these revive our souls.”

Nezhukumatathil’s awards include the Charles Angoff Award from The Literary Review, the James Boatwright III Prize from Shenandoah, the Richard Hugo Prize from Poetry Northwest, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

She teaches creative writing and environmental literature at State University of New York–Fredonia, where she was named the SUNY–Fredonia William T. Hagan Young Scholar. She lives in Fredonia, New York.


Selected Bibliography

Lucky Fish (Tupelo Press, 2011)
At the Drive-In Volcano (Tupelo Press, 2007)
Miracle Fruit (Tupelo Press, 2003)

Wrap

Aimee Nezhukumatathil, 1974

I don't mean when a movie ends,
as in, it's a! Nor tortillas splitting
with the heavy wet of bean.
And I don't mean what you do

with your lavender robe all fluff
and socks to snatch the paper
from the shrubs. Nor the promise
of a gift, the curl and furl of red ribbon

just begging to be tugged. What I mean
is waiting with my grandmama (a pause
in the Monsoon) at the Trivandrum airport
for a jeep. Her small hand wraps

again the emerald green pallu of her sari
tucked in at her hips, across her breast, 
and coughs it up over her shoulder a hush
of paprika and burnt honey across my face.

From Miracle Fruit by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Copyright © 2003 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Reprinted by permission of Tupelo Press. All rights reserved.

From Miracle Fruit by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Copyright © 2003 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Reprinted by permission of Tupelo Press. All rights reserved.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Born in 1974 in Chicago to a Filipina mother and Malayali Indian father, Aimee Nezhukumatathil is known for writing poems that sit at the intersection of three cultures: Filipino, Indian, and American. She received her BA in English and MFA in poetry and creative nonfiction from Ohio State University in Columbus.

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