She Has Dreamt Again of Water

She Has Dreamt Again of Water

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Author: Stephanie Niu

Publisher: Diode Editions (2022) 

In her debut chapbook She Has Dreamt Again of Water, Stephanie Niu imagines the deep sea as sanctuary. Her poems seek solace from generational guilt and a fractured family by diving into dreamscapes where gills grow as easily as wings. Here, the world shimmers with small, stunning miracles: a fish that looks like light, a river delta seen from the moon, a single coyote in the road. In the search for sanctuary, "There is no split, a real self and a dream self / to divide neatly. There are just dreams.” Even upon waking, “she does not weep. She has dreamt again / of water, that place where the river / meets the sea, where long-legged birds / tiptoe through the cordgrass, dipping / their heads to feed." In these poems, the surreal and unseen suggest the shapes of shared longing.

"In She Has Dreamt Again of Water, Stephanie Niu’s brisk, imaginative poems name the fraught distances between daughter and family, self and memory, place and displacement. These are poems of inheritance and love written in a deft care, by a crystalline eye. What a striking debut to behold, one launching a life of poetry to follow."  

–Solmaz Sharif

"Like a blast of seawater, Niu’s poems cleanse, refresh, and brace the reader. On dreams, Niu writes, 'There is no split, a real self and a dream self / to divide neatly.' On scuba diving, 'Everything is worthy / of devotion.' And though the sea binds this collection, it is the steadfastly real mother, and not the myth of the mother, who inhabits these poems. 'Look what I do for you,' she says. 'Even [a] skeleton becomes home,' murmurs Niu in response. Such exquisite, clear-eyed poems, they are an exultation of the natural world we will likely lose, and the intimacy that we may yet preserve."

–Esther Lin

"In her dazzling debut chapbook, She Has Dreamt Again of Water, Stephanie Niu dives into the depths of myth, family origin, and migration with tender, lyrical poems of remarkable craft, taking us on an expansive search for home. Bodies of water ebb and flow throughout, carrying the reader from Georgia to Michigan, from China to Christmas Island, as the speaker works to reclaim a primary world where 'everything is worthy / of devotion.' Niu is a revelation, and her clear-eyed poems hum with elemental power.   

–Kai Carlson-Wee