[Image description: A rectangular graphic with a white background. Event details are on the right, and a book cover is on the left. The event details are written in purple and black text, including book title, author, date/time, address, and website, along with the title "Queer Poetry Reading Group" and the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center logo. The book cover features a young girl walking over a pond with koi fish following her. The title "water/tongue - mai c. doan" are in white.]
The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center presents the April's discussion of the center's Queer Poetry Reading Group, featuring "Water/Tongue" by Mai C. Doan.
Grappling with the shock of her grandmother's suicide, Mai C. Doan undertook a writing project that might give voice to her loss as well as to grapple with memory, and the challenge of articulation and of documentation, in all of their contradictions and (im)possibilities.
In the poems that comprise water/tongue, Doan conjures visceral and intuitive elements of experience to articulate the gendered and intergenerational effects of violence, colonialism, and American empire. Breaking the silence surrounding these experiences, Doan conjures a host of voices dispersed across time and space to better understand the pain that haunted her family--made tragically manifest in her grandmother's death. Looking not only to elements of Vietnamese history and culture, but to the experience of migration and racism in the United States, this book charts a path for both understanding and resistance. Indeed, Doan does not merely wish to unearth the past, but also to change the future. If we want to do so, she shows, we must commune with the voices of sufferers both past and present. Doan demonstrates how even the form of a work of poetry can act as a subversion of what a reader expects from the motion of the act of reading a line of type or a page of text.
Doan disarms and unsettles the ways a reader is led to levels of comprehension, and thus disrupts what "comprehension" might mean, as the reader follows the flow of a work, providing an opportunity to sense, and to confront hierarchies that structure ordinary reading and writing. Doan brings a reader to conscious appraisal of the hierarchies that affect us, and how these hierarchies can constrain our insights and our mobility. water/tongue is a critical read for anyone interested in the long effects of gendered and cultural violence, and the power of speech to forge new and empowering directions.
Limited free copies of the book are available -- request a copy with your RSVP. If you don't need a free copy, you can buy the book here -- and 10% of your purchase supports free arts programs at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center.
The discussion is facilitated by Jimmy Hamill and is sponsored by Lehigh University's Southside Initiative and Humanities Center. This program is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
Funding has been provided in part by the American Rescue Plan. American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.