The poems in Souvankham Thammavongsa’s fourth collection, Cluster, warrant multiple readings. Though drawn in simple language, these are not gentle or delicate poems, but blunt, and Thammavongsa is not interested in bringing the reader to places of refuge or comfort. Rather, she quietly shakes the reader out of their privilege with her incisive voice.
Phoebe Wang’s Admission Requirements is, from the title itself, a collection inflected with tender irony. Admission, here, appears in all its meanings: the act of letting in; the privilege of being allowed, and the price paid for it; the acceptance of difficult truths. Variations of the word “settler” appear throughout, in double entendres. One could think of Wang’s poetry as an introspective land acknowledgement.