quiet of chorus / UpSet Press, 2018
quiet of chorus lifts up the often muffled lineages of resistance to normalized state violence in contemporary life. Huang’s embodied poem-worlds stoke our yearnings for freedom and wholeness, and help enliven the path forward.
In quiet of chorus, Vanessa Huang serves as a multi-tongued conductor, beating out stories in the words of the lost, giving voice to the earth, to the dead, occupied, imprisoned and to the invisible. She channels memories already imbedded in the earth and calls up the supernatural to remind us of our many histories. When her poems unfold the misery of oppression and loss, the heart is moved into arrhythmic beats, percussioned by the precision of language, form and images. Poems are constructed anatomically, each given a precise shape that embodies its bloodflow, heart and internal music. quiet of chorus also invites the reader to prayer, turning to the natural to combat the diseases, toxins and policies that have poisoned the earth and our lives. It addresses our consciousness on a cellular level and in the global sphere. The poems are heartbreaking and lovely—each entry new in creation and consciousness, unsettling and comforting in one breath.
Author, This House, My Bones
quiet of chorus is Vanessa Huang’s debut collection, but Huang is no neophyte. She is an experimentalist. “Notes from the heart preservationist” is one example of the experiment, challenging our notions of “notes,” rhythm, and the poetic line. Her poems honor political prisoners and life-long revolutionaries Marilyn Buck and Assata Shakur, reference activists and scholars Ruth Wilson Gilmore and Angela Davis, and holds poetry and all the rest of us—from Gaza Strip to Rikers Island—answerable. Her poetry gives us history, as in “Driving with the top down sun/out & wind all over the place,” as in ‘60’s teen movie culture, as in gay male and drag queen culture, as in the Attica uprising, and all that we did not overcome and haunts us now. Finally, Huang is a linguist, meshing tongues and vernaculars. “Palestina es como el mar”and so is language the sea: chiding us, chasing us, and contesting our poetics of innocence and our “relentless alphabet of the blameless.”
Author, By My Precise Haircut
Vanessa Huang’s first book of poems bears witness to an intimate terrain traversing pasts, presents, and futures within and surrounding political movements to end various embodiments of the prison industrial complex in the 2000s, California and beyond. Making refuge in diaspora, these poems inhabit and transform the poet’s languages of heritage and migration into their own call-and-response syntax, inviting readers and listeners into prayer, pause, novel gesture towards freedom.
Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices (Trans-Genre Press, 2015)
Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (AK Press, 2011)
Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (South End Press, 2011)
Abolition Now: Ten Years of Strategy Against the Prison Industrial Complex (AK Press, 2008)