Asian American Poets

Guiyou Huang

Even though Asian American literature is enjoying an impressive critical popularity, attention has focused primarily on longer narrative forms such as the novel. And despite the proliferation of a large number of poets of Asian descent in the 20th century, Asian American poetry remains a neglected area of study. Poetry as an elite genre has not reached the level of popularity of the novel or short story, partly due to the difficulties of reading and interpreting poetic texts. The lack of criticism on Asian American poetry speaks to the urgent need for scholarship in this area, since perhaps more than any other genre, poetry most forcefully captures the intense feelings and emotions that Asian Americans have experienced about themselves and their world. This reference book overviews the tremendous cultural contributions of Asian American poets.

Included are alphabetically arranged entries on 48 American poets of Asian descent, most of whom have been active during the latter half of the 20th century. Each entry begins with a short biography, which sometimes includes information drawn from personal interviews. The entries then discuss the poet's major works and themes, including such concerns as family, racism, sexism, identity, language, and politics. A survey of the poet's critical reception follows. In many cases the existing criticism is scant, and the entries offer new readings of neglected works. The entries conclude with bibliographies of primary and secondary texts, and the volume closes with a selected, general bibliography.

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