Headlands Center for the Arts

Shelley Wong

california | writing
Affiliate Program 2019—2021

Artist Statement

I am writing poems to affirm other people like me, who have felt unseen and unheard in literary and artistic spaces. I am interested in the transformative possibilities of a poem, the lyric, free verse forms, the field of a page, and how poetry intersects with other forms of art. Poetry is for everyone, and we are in the golden age of poetry because of the people of color writing today.

In my debut full-length collection As She Appears (spring 2022, YesYes Books), I meditate on the aftermath of a queer relationship as a journey where women are radical forces of creation and becoming. The speaker searches for her reflected, possible selves in a world full of threat and disappointment, traveling across landscapes and through the arts. Against an oceanic backdrop, what remains constant is finding joy and exploring tensions of desire and vulnerability, while illuminating her lineage.

While at Headlands

As I immerse myself in the Headlands landscape and creative community, I am considering layered relationships to inheritance as a way to envision a collective future by researching my Bay Area ancestral history (I’m fourth-generation Chinese American) along with regional Asian American history, military history, natural landscapes, and 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

As She Appears full-length debut collection, YesYes Books, spring 2022

“Refrain,” “Walking Across Fire Island,” Waxwing, 2020

“For the Living in the New World,” The New Republic, 2019

“As She Appears,” Kenyon Review, July/August 2019

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

RARE BIRDS chapbook, Diode Editions, 2017

Personal Website

http://www.shelley-wong.com/