Shelley Wong

Shelley Wong (Poetry) | Oakland, CA

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Shelley Wong is the author of Rare Birds, a winner of the 2016 Diode Editions chapbook award. Her poems have appeared in Sixth Finch, Vinyl, Crazyhorse, Drunken Boat, Southern Humanities Review, The Normal School, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Kundiman fellowship, the Normal Prize for poetry, and scholarships from Fine Arts Work Center and Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. She holds an MFA from the Ohio State University, where she was a poetry editor for The Journal, and a BA from UC Berkeley. She lives in Oakland, California.


Rare Birds (Diode Editions, 2017). Diode Editions Chapbook Award. Poetry

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

“In Rare Birds, Shelley Wong weaves the shimmering threads of iconic women, nature, the arts, and queer love to create erotically lush poems articulated with terrifying accuracy. The result is this hypnotic and unapologetically beautiful tapestry:

I can’t say why
the world is so broken. Exalt

all women. I’m the tree coming back
through the page.

Rare Birds is the poetry of alchemy at its most mysterious and inviting.”
—Kathy Fagan

“In Shelley Wong’s brilliant debut chapbook, girls look like trees and women make their own forests when the dangers of love rise. Rare Birds is a book of burning and beauty; the voices within these pages are multiple and multiply: they speak from the shadow of Frida Kahlo, the broken and exalted ‘I,’ the ‘we’ once named suspect—a tribe now rising. Mangoes, jets, heels, and salt—those objects of the heart—usher in a world both common and strange, a world where ‘the men carve me, but my bones / cut back.’ Prepared to be astonished, seduced, and transformed by the poems woven and sung here: ‘I peacock in the in-between,” proclaims the speaker. “I multiply like a queen.’ ”
—Brynn Saito

“Exquisitely crafted, underscored by an aching musicality, ‘Perennials’ reminds us that regret and longing are elemental forces. Divided by oceans and silence from a beloved, the speaker’s memory glitters with blossoms, arias, and fish sauce. In other words, with temporary pleasures, which remind us of the fleeting nature of all human relationships. This is a moving and startling poem.”
— 2014 Normal Prize judge Eduardo Corral

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