In Oculus, Sally Wen Mao explores exile not just as a matter of distance and displacement, but as a migration through time and a reckoning with technology. The title poem follows a girl in Shanghai who uploaded her suicide onto Instagram. Other poems cross into animated worlds, examine robot culture, and haunt a necropolis for electronic waste. A fascinating sequence speaks in the voice of international icon and first Chinese American movie star Anna May Wong, who travels through the history of cinema with a time machine, even past her death and into the future of film, where she finds she has no progeny. With a speculative imagination and a sharpened wit, Mao powerfully confronts the paradoxes of seeing and being seen, the intimacies made possible and ruined by the screen, and the many roles and representations that women of color are made to endure in order to survive a culture that seeks to consume them.

  • "In her stunning second collection, Mao stages a searing ventriloquy act. . . . These depictions speak and fight back against the white gaze that has framed them."—NPR.org

  • “By telling [Anna May] Wong's story, and those of other women of color who have been defined by images in popular culture, [Oculus] explores the ramifications of being seen and objectified but never truly known.”The Washington Post

  • “Hauntingly perceptive. . . . An homage to pioneering Chinese Americans and an indictment of Asian representation in American culture, which never for a moment shies away from the difficult tasks of taking on race and history and technology all at once.”Vulture

  • “Mao’s kaleidoscopic verse scrutinizes our obsession with onscreen spectacles—and includes a tour de force sequence that imagines silent-film actress Anna May Wong time-traveling to star in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sixteen Candles: 'Cast me as that girl who rivets center stage / or cast me away.’”

Title Oculus
Subtitle Poems
Publisher Graywolf Press
Title First Published 15 January 2019
Format Paperback
Nb of pages
ISBN-10 1555978258
ISBN-13 9781555978259
Publication Date 15 January 2019
Weight 16 oz.

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