Imagine Us, The Swarm
Winner of the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize, Imagine Us, The Swarm offers seven powerful texts that form a constellation of voices, forms, and approaches to loneliness, silence, and death.
Following the death of the poet’s father, Imagine Us, The Swarm contemplates vengeance, eschews forgiveness, and cultivates a desire for healing beyond the reaches of this present life. In this collection of essays in verse, Leung reconciles a familial history of violence and generational trauma across intersections of Asian American, queer, and gendered experiences. Moving between the past and the present, Leung imbues memories with something new to alter time and design a different future.
“Muriel Leung’s powerful new collection renders visible the liminal space of the Asian American, an occupied territory in which every silence, every potentiality, hums with the white noise of other people’s imaginings. Leung’s innovative poetics implicate the reader in the challenge of forming a post-immigrant self, caught between the competing imperatives of authenticity and assimilation: ‘And I am not even legible to myself. Cannot even English my way out.’ To hear a new lyric voice emerge from the swarm is thrilling and inutterably moving.”
Leung articulates grief prismed by the politics of labor and race, reclaiming who can center loss and value the “arduous labor of some effortlessly seeming toil.” If we are going to labor, let it be to point to our own belonging as a fact, so large, so frequently repeated, that it cannot be overlooked.