Asian American Studies Lecture Series: Ken Chen and Sally Wen Mao

Wed, Nov 6, 2019, 4:30 pm
Speaker(s): 
Sponsor(s): 
Program in American Studies
Lewis Center for the Arts
Department of English

Celebrating New Asian American Writing

Ken Chen

Photo of Ken Chen.

Ken Chen. Photo courtesy of Ken Chen

Ken Chen served as the executive director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop from 2008 to 2019. He is the recipient of the Yale Younger Poets Prize, the oldest annual literary award in America, for his book Juvenilia, which was selected by the poet Louise Glück. An NEA, NYFA and Bread Loaf fellow, Chen co-founded the cultural website Arts & Letters Daily and CultureStrike, a national arts organization dedicated to migrant justice. His essay “Authenticity Obsession, or Conceptualism as Minstrel Show” — on the appropriations of Kenneth Goldsmith and Vanessa Place — became a key text in contemporary conversations about race and literature and has been cited in The New Republic, The New Yorker, Los Angeles Review of Books, Jacket, and The New York Times. A graduate of Yale Law School, he successfully defended the asylum application of an undocumented Muslim high school student from Guinea detained by Homeland Security. Represented by The Wylie Agency, he will be working on his next manuscript — “Death Star,” which explores colonialism as the underworld and death as migration — at the Cullman Center of the New York Public Library in 2019.

Sally Wen Mao

Photo of Sally Wen Mao

Sally Wen Mao. Photo courtesy of Sally Wen Mao

Sally Wen Mao is the author of Oculus (Graywolf Press, 2019). Oculus has been featured or reviewed by Nylon, The Washington Post, Lit Hub, NPR, Vulture, O Magazine, The Millions, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, Poets & Writers, and The New Yorker, among others.

Her first book, Mad Honey Symposium (Alice James Books, 2014), was the winner of the 2012 Kinereth Gensler Award, a Poets & Writers Top Ten Debut of 2014, and a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Anticipated Pick of Fall 2014.

Her work has won a 2017 Pushcart Prize and a 2016 Amy Award from Poets & Writers. Her poems are anthologized in The Best of the Net 2014 and The Best American Poetry 2013. Recent poems are published or forthcoming in A Public Space, Poetry, Black Warrior Review, Guernica, The Missouri Review, and Tin House, among other journals. Her fiction can be found in PEN America and Hyphen Magazine, and her essays are published or forthcoming in Rookie on Love, LENNY, The Kenyon Review, and other spaces.

Mao has received fellowships and scholarships from Kundiman, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Jerome Foundation, Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, and Saltonstall Foundation. She holds an MFA from Cornell University. She has taught writing classes and workshops at Cornell University, Hunter College, the National University of Singapore, The George Washington University, Poet's House, and the Asian American Writers Workshop, among others. She was the 2015-16 Singapore Creative Writing Residency Writer-in-Residence, a 2016-17 Cullman Center Fellow at the New York Public Library, and the 2017-18 Jenny McKean Moore Writer-in-Washington at The George Washington University. Most recently, she was a resident artist at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai.