Debut poetry collection, Careen:
What is the nature of a desire? How do we come to terms with the systematic conditions of racism, desire, and alienation that underscore our lives? What are the generational lineages behind our daily existences? How do we fall in love against the landscape of white America?
Blending philosophy and prose, CAREEN presents a braided sequence of poems that present as études—punctuated reflections. At times sexy, deeply ironic, and melancholic, the poems in CAREEN question our deep hunger for inclusion and call back a long history of displacement. Then, “eventually, every color careens into its own lack,” and the carte blanche of whiteness in America is deftly overturned. Cut from the migration stories of a queer Asian American speaker, CAREEN starts as a cry to belong to someone, and winds up becoming a love note plunging headlong into its objects of unattainable desire.
Blurbs & Reviews:
It is a wonder that the fleshed-out female body is both so ghostly and alive. The script that has written itself over this sedimentary stack of skin and bones is that of time, is that of wear, is that of climactic change. I often sit quietly to study the ghosts that surround me, but of course those opaque forms that find themselves present before me, that of course is not the whole story. How far back do we go?
—Janice Lee, American Book Review
Liew’s accretive narration and off-kilter lineation kept me on my toes as a reader. There is no center, just another frenetic shift. One second we’re talking about dishwasher foam, then video games, trains, porn, and so on goes the digressive parade, spiraling forward with propulsive energy and “always hovering / at the outskirts / of a grand / unifying theory.”…Careen is, to the end, a “tale of statelessness.” Which is to say, it caves to the reliefs of failure, to the pleasures of washing off, to the succor of discarded locations, to the solace of blue weekends.
—Anomaly Lit, A book review
I’m really excited about Grace Shuyi Liew. These are poems full of fantasy and desire and rage. They’re decolonial poems, profound poems, poems with heart and tears. Grace Shuyi Liew questions whiteness, sexuality, family, homeland, politics, the body, and more in this collection, with a voice that is clear and sharp. It’s a knockout collection that’s unexpected in all the ways you want poetry to be.
—Bookriot, Queer Poetry Collections to Read During National Poetry Month
Liew crafts a view into the world of the other with fear and trembling similar to the narrator of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. The stream of consciousness chills from scene to scene and dream state to dream state. Once readers are stripped of the status quo and forced to live this life of distorted intimacy, life in this collection feels desolate with nothing but the words of a gifted linguist to guide them through—but never out or free.
Sharp in their vulnerability, the poems in Grace Shuyi Liew’s Careen are injurious wounds, moving through a cavernous politics, breaking off, turning in, and restructuring memory as scaffolding, pain as terrifying recurrence. This work is jolting in its refusal to reign in its rageful grief. Grace Shuyi Liew disarms language in order to disarm us, leaving us little room burrow in our fear.
—Raquel Salas Rivera, 2018-2019 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia
Careen is a battlefield of conflicting desires, a place where words are dragged from the liminal engine of Grace’s ‘kinetically charged’ soul into the broad daylight of racial politics. A place where it’s impossible to dodge the inevitable bullets aimed at whiteness and its whitened landscape. Her work swells with infinite breast songs shaped to evoke and choke all exit doors towards a place where poetry doesn’t exist as an aftermath.
Her poetry is designed to stay current, to enrapture, and also a place to “reveal [her] private galaxy of bruises.” Are her words bruises? Grace’s Careen will drape a white sheet over you.
— Vi Khi Nao, author of Sheep Machine, Umbilical Hospital, and The Old Philosopher
To whom do you give the potential to seize the whole space of you?” Grace Shuyi Liew, of course. She brings it all: fairy tales and video games, fetish, sex, and politics, perennial mothers and daughters jumping off cliffs, global cities and statelessnesss. Here dreams are real, and worlds careen refracted in and across time. Go for the ride.
— Gabrielle Civil, author of Swallow The Fish & Experiments in Joy
Genres & Identifiers:
Asian American studies
Women & gender studies
Hi res author photos:
Reading from Careen at Kenyon College:
Grace Shuyi Liew is the author of Careen (Noemi Press, 2019).
Her work has appeared in West Branch, Black Warrior Review, Kenyon Review, cream city review, PANK, The Wanderer, and elsewhere. She is a Watering Hole fellow. Her other honors include the Lucille Clifton Poetry Fellowship from Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Aspen Summer Words scholarship, resident writer at Can Serrat in Barcelona, resident at Agora Affect, Vancouver Poetry House’s “10 Best Poems of 2016,” Ahsahta Press Chapbook Prize 2016, and others. She holds a BA in Philosophy from Hamilton College, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Northern Arizona University. She is a Contributing Editor for Waxwing.
Born and raised in Malaysia, a former colony of The British Empire, Grace thinks closely of migration, loss, sexuality, violence, and nation states. The Mother figure, the Mother tongue, and the Mother land converge in her work, alongside theories about split consciousnesses and their affect.
Previously, Grace taught as an instructor at Louisiana State University, and as a Teaching Artist with the Manship Theater Foundation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has taught rhetoric, poetry, gender & women studies, and somatics-based arts and poetry workshops from K-12 to the university level.
Prior to moving to the United States on a college scholarship, Grace worked as a simultaneous interpreter and broadcast journalist. Her family remains in Malaysia. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she runs a burgeoning qpoc arts collective and shoots photography. She is working on her second poetry manuscript, a book-length transnational epic poem, and a novel.
Short bio (150 words):
Grace Shuyi Liew is the author of Careen (Noemi Press, 2019).
Born and raised in Malaysia, a former colony of The British Empire, Grace thinks closely of migration, sexuality, violence, and nation states. Her work has appeared in West Branch, Black Warrior Review, Kenyon Review, cream city review, PANK, The Wanderer, and elsewhere. She is a Watering Hole fellow, and her other honors include the Lucille Clifton Poetry Fellowship from Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Aspen Summer Words scholarship, resident writer at Can Serrat in Barcelona, resident at Agora Affect, Vancouver Poetry House’s “10 Best Poems of 2016,” Ahsahta Press Chapbook Prize 2016, and others.
She holds a BA in Philosophy from Hamilton College, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Northern Arizona University. She is a Contributing Editor for Waxwing. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she runs a burgeoning qpoc arts collective.