Khaty Xiong

Khaty Xiong (Poetry) | Gahanna, OH

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Khaty Xiong is the daughter of Hmong refugees from Laos. She is the author of Poor Anima (Apogee Press, 2015), which is the first full-length collection of poetry published by a Hmong American woman in the United States. Xiong has received an award from the Ohio Arts Council and a fellowship from the MacDowell Colony. Her work has been published in POETRY, The New York Times, How Do I Begin?: A Hmong American Literary Anthology and elsewhere.


Poor Anima (Apogee Press, 2015). Poetry.


  • Ode to the Far Shore (Platypus Press, 2016). Poetry.
  • Deer Hour (New Michigan Press, 2014). Poetry.
  • Elegies (University of Montana, 2013). Poetry.

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

“Khaty Xiong writes a penumbra poetry. In Poor Anima, lyric and narrative intertwine to form a site where ‘blacknesses trade spaces with each other, extensions/of shadow and smoke.’ Xiong’s poetry is also a sacrificial poetry, both in the sense that it knows and performs ritual, and in the sense that it gives itself up, completely, to currents that it perceives but can’t tame. Don’t be tricked into thinking that Xiong’s limpid language is the result of uncomplicated thinking. These poems are deeply strange, deeply courageous, deeply beautiful. They ‘grow back the mysteriousness passed on/through the exodus we sprang from.’”
—Elizabeth Robinson, author of On Ghosts

Poor Anima is a brilliant and serious collection of poems; poems that foreground the perils of a ‘trapped tongue’ yet darkly pushing for its articulate cry and sonorous divining. Her poems are a ‘wilderness,’ a ‘place to be among your kind.’ The poems are ‘dear, delightful bones.’ Xiong is gifted—a telepath with language—and her poems straddle a narrative undertow that belies exposition in order to ‘shoot the praying to save yourself.’ This is an extraordinary debut.”
—Prageeta Sharma, author of Undergloom

“Khaty Xiong sings hauntingly of war, violence, and dislocation. Her language, a traumatized body, traverses between welts and wounds, between home and exile.”
—Don Mee Choi, author of The Morning News Is Exciting

“…[C]an poetry be a cleansing act? What can language offer in the face of personal and collective trauma? …[Xiong] asks: ‘Why would anyone want to write this?’ and ‘What is vulnerable?’ …Here [in Poor Anima], vulnerability begins with bravery and the felt word.”
—Jane Wong, author of Overpour, review excerpt from Warscapes Magazine

Poor Anima comes from a wet place unreachable by light: the anima, the subconscious, the bottom side of the tongue. And from this place, carves out an articulation of what dwells below language in the individual, familial, and historical body. Khaty Xiong alchemizes the psychological with the magical and materializes a vocabulary of how the living feels the dead.”
—Mai C. Đoàn, review excerpt from Entropy Magazine

“This free, concise and solemn collection [Ode to the Far Shore] by Khaty Xiong is heady with the atmosphere of loss but pregnant with that sharp sense of the solitary transition through familial moments, all the while heedful of the miraculous beauty of the surrounding mundane. The grace carried in these five small vessels, moves us not quite across, but out into the open waters where, rocking gently in reflection, that far shore is visible. Take your time with it.”
–David Anthony Martin‎

“Luminous and feral, Deer Hour is part creation documentary of the worlds we build for ourselves with language, part elegy for the fact that it is impossible to generate closure without enclosure. In a world where humanity is bound to ‘red cedars whose secrets keep us logging’ as well as ‘childhood / writing from the front lines,’ Xiong would guide us through the anxieties of being ‘bound in sore action, / unable to reconcile / the wild & the not-wild’ with poetry that is determined to witness while resistant to the complicities of history. Here, as in other crucial, contemporary poetics, the acts of speaking and writing are not halves of a pristine poetic whole, but yearning, expressive portions that remain troubled by the absence of a bearable relationship to the world. The resulting work is of an important new perspective that would liberate us from the dualism of what is sayable and free us into an argument about what is livable. Read this book if you have ever contemplated the institution of civilization, known the love of language, or taken one step toward the wild and opened your eyes.”
—Lo Kwa Mei-en, author of Yearling

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