Denver poet Teow Lim Goh explores the challenges and triumphs of Chinese immigrants in her debut collection of poetry, Islanders; lost voices of immigrants held on Angel Island, California.
Teow Lim Goh’s debut poetry collection Islanders has received heaps of praise and attention from numerous publications prior to the book’s official release July 12, 2016.
In searing poetic language, Goh offers a new tale of Asian immigration, a book that is due to secure its place on bookshelves beside Maxine Hong Kingston and Jhumpa Lahiri. In the 89-page collection, Goh imagines and describes the lost voices of detained Chinese women at the Angel Island Immigration Station, near San Francisco, while also telling the stories of their families on shore and at the 1877 San Francisco Chinatown Riot.
Confluence Denver, The Fem, The Cloudy House, The Toast, PANK, At The Inkwell, and Tweetspeak Poetry all have either reviewed the book or interviewed Goh.
Here’s an excerpt from one poem, In a Wooden Building: So I wait on Angel Island, / this island of immortals. / The grass is dry and golden, / waves scour the headlands, / and the sea churns around me. / The children now a year older, / a year beyond their father, / another year without me. / Each day we knit in silence, / socks for the children, / hats for the parents, / and our words swirl in the sea.
As part of our official book launch campaign, Conundrum Press is making inquiries with media outlets for either interviews upon request with Goh or book reviews. We can mail print copies of Islanders to interested outlets. Additional information about Islanders can be found on our website. Islanders is available for sale on Amazon and through other booksellers on July 12. It is also available for sale in our online bookstore.
About the Author:
Goh’s poetry, essays, and criticism have appeared in PANK, The Toast, Guernica, The Rumpus, and Open Letters Monthly, among other publications. She lives in Denver, Colorado and dreams of the sea. This is her debut book. For further information, including a list of upcoming readings in Colorado, California, and Oregon, visit her website at teowlimgoh.com.
About Conundrum Press:
Headquartered in Golden, Colorado, Conundrum Press is committed to publishing the best fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction from the American West. We have published winners of the Pushcart Prize, the Sherwood Anderson Award in Fiction, and the Colorado Book Award.
Praise for Islanders
Blending research and imagination, Teow Lim Goh creates a polyphonic narrative of early twentieth-century Chinese immigrants who were detained on Angel Island. In these spare but powerful lyrics, she presents fragments of the same material from disparate points of view, and then provides a backgrounding flashback to 1877 San Francisco, where “the Chinese must go” becomes a refrain. In this poignant journey across “the borders we inhabit, the borders / we inherit,” the author finds a history that she makes ours, as well as her own.
— Martha Collins, author of Blue Front and White Papers
The voices channeled by Teow Lim Goh in Islanders arrive with little poetic adornment, with a restraint instilled by Chinese culture and reinforced by exile and imprisonment. It is possible to feel rage while hearing, or overhearing, these distress calls from the forgotten reaches of American history. But the real power of this poetry sings out from an empathy so complete that we readers and the poet herself almost vanish into them. Instead of cultural difference and the exile of history, Goh’s poetry reminds us that the suffering these poems give voice to exists here and now, in the forgotten reaches of our own lives.
—Joseph Hutchison, Colorado Poet Laureate, author of Thread of the Real and Marked Men
These poems are imagined out of ash — script written on walls of a detention building that burned down and took the record with it. Teow Lim Goh would have those voices back, voices from the barracks, voices at the gates, on sea crossings to China, on bay crossings to San Francisco, amid riots and in cold examination rooms, in a brothel, in a prison shower, in rooms of privilege and power, challenging readers to navigate layered tone and inter-subjectivity, all of it staged at the theatre of lost history, recovered.
— Chris Ransick, author of Language for the Living and the Dead
In between seeing and saying. In between shadow and fire. The voices and words in Islanders honor the bodies of women disappeared from history, reminding us how it is that America has always been standing on the bodies of those it swallowed whole. In the lost voices of Chinese women detained at Angel Island we have the chance to yet hear something from the ruins: song.
— Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Small Backs of Children and The Chronology of Water
Teow Lim Goh’s important first collection of poems gives voice to the Chinese immigrants detained on Angel Island during the Chinese exclusion era. Like the sea that “spins a song of solitude and pain,” these poems are haunting, deliberate, and utterly relevant to contemporary issues of race and immigration. Goh’s work is fearless: like the imprisoned women on the island, these poems “never return and never arrive.” Instead, they reverberate with the unanswerable question, “why must I prove that I am me?”
— Nancy Pearson, author of The Whole by Contemplation of a Single Bone
Post published by Stephen J. McConnell, director of marketing and content for Conundrum Press.