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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)

This Sugar

When you ask me to split a dessert with you, I wince
because I don’t like to share my restaurant food

and there is the matter of who pays for what.
If I don’t order a drink and just have a salad,

always the person in the group who gobbled steak,
a glass of wine, and two appetizers says, Let’s just split

the check equally! But you, you raise your eyebrows when
the waitress mentions a brambleberry tart and maybe

so do I. When she places the piping-hot pie dish
with two funnels of steam and two spoons, you look

at me and say: dig in. We have already tasted
from each other’s lips when we’ve shared cold glasses

before. I’m fairly certain across this table across the slide
of the fork, even the knife we both use—this is how

thumbnail-sized coquina clams feel when they tumble
and toss into the shoreline from an impending storm—

how they gasp and slide their feet trying to brace
themselves, then thwap—another wave. And after

that tumble, the sunlight glows below you, and then
above you, where it should be, and I wipe my mouth

with the pink napkin and in the folds of that napkin
is a lipstick kiss where the kiss should be—never

between your neck and shoulder. Our mouths will press
only on this sugar, this glaze, and this caramelized topping.

Copyright © 2018 Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Spring 2018.

Copyright © 2018 Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Spring 2018.

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.

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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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