A Whitmansque exploration of identity from Lehua Taitano for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s online exhibition A Day in the Queer Life of Asian Pacific America. It’s part of a half-completed series of twelve author-made videopoems curated by poet Franny Choi: Queer Check-Ins, which Choi introduces with this note:
It’s a strange time to be strange. For those of us who are queer and trans, femme and gender non-conforming, immigrant and indigenous, every day seems to bring a new understanding of the exact precariousness of our survival. As artists, we are often making our visions for the future while being drained by loss, heartbroken by loneliness and the distances between us. But, as poet Ocean Vuong writes, “loneliness is still time spent / with the world.” As curator for this project, I’m excited to gather these twelve queer voices from across the Asian and Pacific diasporas, to form a kind of collective rest stop in our travels through this America. Together, these poets meet the dark road ahead with fierce tenderness, with legends and incantations, with sharp criticism and complex dreams. Here are twelve check-ins from our extended chosen family; twelve brief glimpses into what it looks like when we stay.
For more on Taitano, see her excellent website. I’ll take the liberty of quoting her bio:
Lehua M. Taitano is a queer CHamoru writer and interdisciplinary artist from Yigu, Guåhan (Guam) and co-founder of Art 25. She is the author of two volumes of poetry—Inside Me an Island (WordTech Editions) and A Bell Made of Stones (TinFish Press). Her chapbook, appalachiapacific, won the Merriam-Frontier Award for short fiction. She has two recent chapbooks of poetry and visual art: Sonoma (Dropleaf Press) and Capacity (a Hawai’i Review e-chap).
Her poetry, essays, and Pushcart Prize-nominated fiction have appeared in Poetry, Fence, Arc Poetry Magazine, Kartika Review, Red Ink International Journal, and numerous others. She has served as an APAture Featured Literary Artist via Kearny Street Workshop, a Kuwentuhan poet via The Poetry Center at SFSU, and as a Culture Lab visual artist and curatorial advisor for the Smithsonian Institute’s Asian Pacific American Center. Taitano’s work investigates modern indigeneity, decolonization, and cultural identity in the context of diaspora.