How Often I Have Chosen Love
Choosing the winner last year was both incredibly difficult, and impossibly simple. The mission of the contest was never to produce a collection that would need to turn a profit, but simply to identify the strongest work by an emerging poet that we could champion in its publication as a free digital chapbook. Xiao Yue Shan writes excellent poetry. It riles, it transports, it is machinery of language that makes you feel. We couldn’t be more humbled to help her usher How Often I Have Chosen Love into the world.
Color and light and life invigorate Xiao Yue Shan’s de- but chapbook—or, in her own words: “a thrill of poppy and chrysanthemum”. How Often I Have Chosen Love explores the rediscovery of her nuanced and complex family, her nuanced and complex sense of home, the nuanced and complex history of China. From the flag in Tiananmen Square to the apartments of San Francisco, Shan complicates our sense of home and history by filling every reflection and every moment with the bursting blue light of Hong Kong, the delicate sprawl of blooming vegetation—envisioning a creation myth that seeks to have “no tale of falling.” In the voice of a modern woman of two nations, Shan’s work finds her deepest authenticity. Her rich palette of color, of flower and nation and jewel, is an achievement only Shan’s unique perspective could conceive. Xiao Yue Shan is an emerging poet whose words and heart beat with the exact rhythm of our times.
“Xiao Yue Shan’s poems are both alight and firmly buried into the earth at the same time. What a wonderful discovery of Shan’s poems... Definitely a poet to watch!”
— Victoria Chang, Guggenheim Fellow & author of Barbie Chang
"Dazzling with sensory details and vibrant landscapes, these poems deepen our understanding of home in their poignant examinations of country, gender, childhood, and love. Xiao Yue Shan achieves both a delicate and fierce offering of lyricism that often leaves the reader breathless by the end of the poem. I can’t wait to read more from this poet on the rise and on the verge of something greater that is all her own."
— Mai Der Vang, author of Afterland
“The love of this world, its inhabitants painted with all palettes from dusky to florescent to bloody, infuses every line in this volume.... This book made me want to drown right in its pages.”
— Jordan A. Y. Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Tokyo Poetry Journal
“Creation myth does not do justice to the ambition of Xiao Yue Shan’s poems which, by straddling the mythical-poetic and the historical, transform both into a vision that is completely the poet’s own. Shan’s lines have the effect of being simultaneously heavy and effortless—a quality that rhymes beautifully with her speaker’s prevailing attitude of critical fascination with the world. From the injustices of history to the injustices of the present, from the joys of childhood to the wisdom of adulthood, Shan’s poems bring us into intimate engagement with her inner world”
— Simon Shieh, Editor-in-Chief of Spittoon Literary Magazine