Monica Youn, Jenny Zhang read and discuss poetry

Written by
Sarah Malone, Program in American Studies
March 25, 2020

On Wednesday, February 26, 2020, poet Monica Youn, a Princeton alumna and lecturer in creative writing, and Jenny Zhang, a fiction writer, essayist and poet who currently writes for the Apple TV+ series Little America, read from their work as part of the 2019-20 Asian American Studies Lecture Series celebration of new Asian American writing.

Introducing Youn and Zhang, Kirstin Valdez Quade, assistant professor of creative writing, recalled encountering the “breathless two-page account of a family’s perpetually clogged toilet” that opens Zhang’s story collection, Sour Heart, and knowing “that this was an entirely new and thrilling voice.” Quade described Youn’s poem “Study of Two Figures, Pasiphae/Sado” as “a marvelously capacious container” for “an argument built of logic and image and juxtaposition, with deeply moving results.”

Youn later read the poem, with background that begins at 52:35 in the video.

Following the readings, series co-organizer Paul Nadal, assistant professor of English and American studies, moderated conversation with Youn and Zhang and the audience of students, faculty, staff and alumni. Topics included cultural hybridity and writing against community and external expectations.

The event brought nearly 60 attendees to McCormick Hall at 4:30 p.m. on February 26, 2020. It concluded with a reception, book sale and signing.