Vice-royal-ties / Bi-rey-nato

Vice-royal-ties / Bi-rey-nato

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Author: Julia Wong Kcomt

Translator: Jennifer Shyue

Publisher: Ugly Duckling Presse (2021)

The title of Bi-rey-nato, Julia Wong Kcomt’s sixth poetry collection, is a homonym for “virreinato” or “viceroyalty,” but can also be broken down into its component words: “bi” (bi / two), “rey” (king), and “nato” (born). Likewise, the poems in this chapbook play with binaries: in power, love, language, country, identity. The salt in the air of seaside Lima, the setting of the first section, condenses into the salt that trails through the second section, set mostly in Argentina.

"Julia Wong Kcomt’s poems are taut and pulsing, each word as incisive as evocative. Jennifer Shyue’s keen ear in translating these poems makes us feel Wong Kcomt breathing along the lines."

–Aron Aji

"Julia Wong Kcomt's poems sweep you into the tender points of the diasporic soul—that ache of always being a little bit elsewhere, the yearning for homes and languages that might have been. Her decadent bravado and impish humor flit between Chinese and Japanese Peruvians, Brazilian and Argentine poetry, visions of Macau, Baudelaire, and the conquistadors who linger across Latin America. Jennifer Shyue's translation undulates with a delicate, playful attunement. I can't wait to read more."

–Katrina Dodson

"I feel so refreshed reading Julia Wong Kcomt’s poems / Jennifer Shyue’s translations, like a lifetime of rain has lifted and I’ve been given a new prescription. And yet the feeling is not entirely free of a little foreboding, as the poems—lucid, lactic, slyly sensuous invitations into hypervigilance (attention in the face of a shapeshifting power)—are practically animistic, shading everything, making everything glow. Now I want to read everything Wong Kcomt has written (is writing) and everything Shyue is bringing, so ingeniously, into English."

–Brandon Shimoda