Every time our kind are addressed, we are either an egg roll: stuffed with pork and shrimp and deep fried; or a bowl of rice noodles, decorated with carrots and greens and drenched in soy and fish sauce, taken to church picnics, bingo and office socials. But even among our kind we are the ones whose industry is unfailing. Always smiling, always deferential, unassuming. Book publishers tell us: your people don't read so what are you writing? Who are you even writing for? Your poor country built a university 400 years before Harvard but they'll keep looking for faults in grammar and spelling. They don't believe you when you say lightening is not the same as lightning. When it rains, every hurricane is named calamity. Every child with light eyes and skin must come from a musical where a bar girl is fucked by a blue- eyed soldier and then is abandoned. Every time I step into an elevator I can feel when someone's gaze sweeps over me from head to toe. I don't know them but that never keeps them from appraising.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.