His tongue shorn, father confuses
snacks for snakes, kitchen for chicken.
It is 1992. Weekends, we paw at cheap
silverware at yard sales. I am told by mother
to keep our telephone number close,
my beaded coin purse closer. I do this.
The years are
Jenny Xie was born in Hefei, China, and raised in New Jersey. She holds degrees from Princeton University and New York University’s creative writing program, and has received fellowships and support from Kundiman, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Elizabeth George Foundation, and Poets & Writers.
Her debut poetry collection, Eye Level, was selected by Juan Felipe Herrera as the winner of the 2017 Walt Whitman Award, given by the Academy of American Poets, and was published by Graywolf Press in 2018.
About Eye Level Herrera writes:
‘Between Hanoi and Sapa’ this collection begins and continues with its ‘frugal mouth’ that ‘spends the only foreign words it owns.’ This knowing ‘travels’ in a spiral-shaped wisdom. We go places; we enter multiple terrains of seeing; we cross cultural borders of time, voices, locations—of consciousness. Then—we notice we are in a trembling stillness with all beings and all things. Jenny Xie’s Eye Level is a timely collection of beauty, clarity, and expansive humanity.
Xie is the recipient of the 2016 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize for Nowhere to Arrive, and her poems appear in The New Republic, Tin House, Harvard Review, The Literary Review, Narrative, and elsewhere.
She lives in Brooklyn and teaches at New York University.