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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)

Self-Portrait as C-Section Scar

When I’m happy I can smile twice at the same time. 
So thin—a marker-tip line with a waxy shine—
a vein of a maple leaf, a dog’s upper lip, arm of anemone.
Of all the magical plants and animals in the sea,
the hagfish is the most unpopular, the most horrifying—
the one that makes children burst into tears. And if that
isn’t enough, she is the only fish without vertebrae,
so she can literally tie herself into a knot to bulge out
and pop the small mouths of fish that dare try to eat  her.
Don’t you admire her clever slip and wriggle? Don’t 
you think her nerves are left a little more electric
after she is caught? Sometimes if you put an ear
to the dark slash between my hip bones, you can hear
a soft hum. Pretend it’s a skit of bees in late spring.
 

From Oceanic (Copper Canyon Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.m on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. All rights reserved.

From Oceanic (Copper Canyon Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.m on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. All rights reserved.

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

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poem

 

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2
poem

Exactly four different men have tried
to teach me how to play. I could never
tell the difference between a rook
or bishop, but I knew the horse meant

knight. And that made sense to me,
because a horse is night: soot-hoof
and nostril, dark as a sabled evening

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