Oculus: Poems

Sally Wen Mao

In her second collection, Sally Wen Mao finds meaning in what gets filtered out when life is reduced to what can be consumed on a screen. She also plays with the subjective reality that screens can present. Consider her fictionalized story of Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American movie star, who performed in the early 20th century despite widespread anti-Chinese prejudice in the U.S. and who lived until 1961. In Mao’s imagining, Wong becomes a “webcam girl” with “prudish” performances. Through these two acts—exploring what isn’t visible and what could be—Mao suggests a new way of seeing.

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