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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 four poetry collections: Oceanic (Copper Canyon Press, 2018); 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.

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 is a professor of English in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program and lives in Oxford, Mississippi.


Selected Bibliography

Oceanic (Copper Canyon Press, 2018)
Lucky Fish (Tupelo Press, 2011)
At the Drive-In Volcano (Tupelo Press, 2007)
Miracle Fruit (Tupelo Press, 2003)

Naming the Heartbeats

I’ve become the person who says Darling, who says Sugarpie,
Honeybunch, Snugglebear—and that’s just for my children.
What I call my husband is unprintable. You’re welcome. I am
his sweetheart, and finally, finally—I answer to his call and his
alone. Animals are named for people, places, or perhaps a little
Latin. Plants invite names for colors or plant-parts. When you
get a group of heartbeats together you get names that call out
into the evening’s first radiance of planets: a quiver of cobras,
a maelstrom of salamanders, an audience of squid, or an ostentation
of peacocks. But what is it called when creatures on this earth curl
and sleep, when shadows of moons we don’t yet know brush across
our faces? And what is the name for the movement we make when
we wake, swiping hand or claw or wing across our face, like trying
to remember a path or a river we’ve only visited in our dreams?

From Oceanic (Copper Canyon Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press.

From Oceanic (Copper Canyon Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of four poetry collections: Oceanic (Copper Canyon Press, 2018), 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.

by this poet

poem

The light here on earth keeps us plenty busy: a fire
in central Pennsylvania still burns bright since 1962.

Whole squads of tiny squid blaze up the coast of Japan
before sunrise. Of course you didn’t show when we went

searching for you, but we found other lights: firefly,
strawberry moon

2
poem
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
poem

I have faith in the single glossy capsule of a butterfly egg.
I have faith in the way a wasp nest is never quiet

and never wants to be. I have faith that the pile of forty
painted turtles balanced on top of each other will not fall

as the whole messy mass makes a scrabble-run