In her new poetry collection, Oculus, Sally Wen Mao explores various subjects from Anna May Wong to Wong Kar-wai to personhood to objecthood. Anne A. Cheng interviews Mao for Bomb Magazine, and they discuss how these topics merge in her confessional poems. Sally Wen Mao discusses art’s role in redeeming history and reimagining “lost moments, the feelings never expressed, the secrets never surfaced,” Mao writes. “I think that it’s possible for art to reckon with and mourn this loss even as it imagines or recovers what has been lost. I think it’s possible to simultaneously arrive at both.”
This week Uncanny Valley Press released Leave Luck to Heaven, Brian Oliu’s collection of lyric essays based on “the weird, painful things we made NES games carry for us because we didn’t know where else to put them.” To get a taste for Oliu’s style, check out “Mile Zero,” which will be featured in a different manuscript down the line.
So does literature really have the power to bring liberals and conservatives together? Probably not. Either way, this is still a fascinating study: “The ‘most startling result was this: it was conservative — not liberal — readers who are most active in producing this space of cultural compromise.’ Basically, within this sample size, conservative readers tended to exude more generous praise for ‘bridge books’ and did so with a vernacular considered to be ‘less heated or emotional.’ Grammatically, they also expressed ‘more complex thoughts.'”
“How can we represent four hundred years of American literary history in a way that doesn’t reinforce the unfortunate hierarchies of those four hundred years?” Year in Reading alum Rebecca Makkai writes for Electric Literature about the opening of the new American Writers Museum in Chicago and what it means to curate an historical canon of letters. See also: our interview with Makkai from a couple of years back.
“A month ago, I touched a lock of Sylvia Plath’s hair.” At Tin House, Emma Komlos-Hrobsky examines the relationship between the late poet and her fans.