Headlands Center for the Arts

Shelley Wong

california | writing
Affiliate Program 2019—2020

Artist Statement

I am writing the poems I have looked for and not yet found. Community is key to my work, as I write to reach and affirm other people like me, who have felt unseen and unheard in artistic spaces. I am interested in the transformative possibilities of a poem, the experience of a poem on the field of a page, and how poetry intersects with other forms of art.

In my current work, I write about radical beauty as a form of resistance, and foreground women’s lives independent of motherhood and marriage. Nature becomes a place of sanctuary and subversion. Speakers search for their reflected, possible selves, finding joy and exploring queer desire, while also elegizing what has been lost or erased.

While at Headlands

As I immerse myself in the Headlands landscape, I will consider relationships to inheritance by researching my Bay Area ancestral history (I’m fourth-generation Chinese American) along with ecopoetics texts. Another project is to develop my own queer Asian literary canon and deepen my understanding of craft and a sustainable writing life through the lens of artists of color. I am also curious to explore the interdisciplinary and collaborative possibilities of poetry to startle and expand my artistic practice.

Selected Texts

RARE BIRDS chapbook, Diode Editions, 2017

“[the ocean will take us one day],” “Pride Month,” “All Beyoncés and Lucy Lius,” “Sightlines,” Kenyon Review, February 2018

“To Yellow,” Sixth Finch, 2016

“Exit Strategist,” Vinyl, 2016

Personal Website