Literary Hub:: How Bearing Witness to Nature Helped Me Delve into History

My observations of nature sparked adventures into landscape and history, and it was in bearing witness to these injustices that I found language. And observation and description are at the root of bearing witness: it is about saying, in the face of the machinations of power to twist and deny its brutality, this is what I see. It is a simple act, but also a powerful one, for it cuts through facades and illusions to assert what we can plainly see for ourselves. It affirms the truths of our lives.

Los Angeles Review of Books:: On Cat Pictures

The best cat pictures and jokes negotiate this tension between the wild and the domesticated. Cats getting stuck in the blinds or atop a door. Cats swatting a glass of water onto the floor. Cats dipping their paws into the fish tank. Cats sleeping on a keyboard. Cats poking their heads in toilet bowls. These behaviors are not unexpected for anyone who has lived with cats, but they continue to tickle our funny bone as they mock us for our inability to master their nature.

The Georgia Review:: The Ghosts of Bitter Creek (Print)

The Chinese were the antithesis of the cowboy, stereotyped as meek and subservient, unable to reinvent themselves, a visible representation of the underbelly of industrial capitalism that the nation would rather not acknowledge. Chinese exclusion may have been driven by tribalism and xenophobia, but it was also a backlash to the degradations of a newly mechanized world.

About Place Journal:: Home Lands

Home, we are taught, is about our origins. It is where we are born and raised. It is a sense of belonging that may be true for many people, but it has also been weaponized against immigrants. For if home is where you were born, then to migrate is to never be at home, to never have stakes – and if you have never set down meaningful roots, then it becomes easy to justify removing you. 

The Normal School:: Landscapes of a Pandemic (Photo Essay)

The world is falling apart. A month into lockdown, I am in the throes of cabin fever. Most of the pictures on my phone are of my cats. No one knows much about how the novel coronavirus spreads or can be stopped; out of an abundance of caution, the state mandate discourages travel of more than ten miles from home. White Ranch is about ten miles from my home. On these trails, I can see further than the four walls of my home.

Los Angeles Review of Books:: The Dehumanizing Politics of Likability

I am not saying that we should all write about serial killers who crucify kittens. But likability hinges on respectability, which is another way of saying a “likable” character is one whose presence and portrayal does not make us uncomfortable, does not rock the status quo. When we privilege likability, whether in literature or in life, we limit our emotional range to that which is agreeable and repress the most compassionate parts of ourselves. 

Catapult:: Borders and Citizens

We are citizens of a nation or two by virtue of blood and family, our most primal roots. We define our power and identity by our origins. To take up citizenship in another country is to naturalize: to be made natural, normal. In this framework, to immigrate is to move away from our origins, break with our lineage, and become unnatural and alien, which is aberrant to many who subscribe to the idea of a patrilineal homeland.

Los Angeles Review of Books:: The Walls Speak: Excavating the Chinese Immigrant Experience at Angel Island

My contribution to the corpus of Angel Island literature outlined below is a volume of original, English-language poems that imagine what these women might have said. I used the stories gathered in these books as well as the labyrinth of exclusion laws to develop my work. In writing fiction that is rooted in historical and cultural facts, I aimed for larger truths about the effects of unjust policies on the lives of real people.

Literary Hub:: On Tenacity

I began reading Louise Glück’s poems around the time I handed in the final draft of my first book. Now I can see that the book was a culmination of a decade of work and obsession, but at the time, without the manuscript to anchor my thoughts, I felt adrift. I had to come down from the high of achieving what I had set out to do and had to face the blank page again.

The Millions:: Airplane Reading

I travel often, whether for work or for pleasure, and on these short flights I see the proverbial light at the end of the aluminum tunnel before we depart, as long as I have earplugs and something to keep me occupied. I cannot seem to work or write, though I wish I could — imagine how much I could get done. What I need, I have found, is a good book. But there is airplane reading and airplane reading.

Guernica:: Split

On March 11, 2011, the day an earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Japan’s Honshu Island, I saw Allison Smith’s mixed media installation Piece Work at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. At the center of the exhibit was a collection of Smith’s handmade renditions of cloth gas masks used during the First World War.

  • Cross Country Skier:: Mountains from Molehills: An Amateur’s Guide to Cross Country Skiing (Winter 2019) (Print)
  • Cross Country Skier:: Powder Day on Colorado’s Grand Mesa (Midwinter 2020) (Print)