A debut poetry collection in which non-binary poet and drag performer Wo Chan recounts stories from their queer childhood and adolescence.
Togetherness sends out sparks from its electric surface, radiating energy and verve from within its deep and steady emotional core: stories of the poet’s immigrant childhood spent in their family’s Chinese restaurant, culminating in a deportation battle against the State. These narrative threads weave together monologue, soaring lyric descants, and document, taking the positions of apostrophe, biography, and soulful plaint to stage a vibrant and daring performance in which drag is formalism and formalism is drag—at once campy and sincere, queer, tender, and winking.
Wo Chan’s debut hurtles past any praise I can heap on it. Acutely aware of the cruelty of the nation-state and of the exhilarating splendor of drag, Chan’s language—razor sharp, captivating—refuses to demure, to clarify. A wide range of formal approaches and a structure that’s sheer genius troubles assumptions, disrupts notions of “togetherness.” I will be teaching this book.
Wo Chan’s remarkable debut collection puts in tension memories of the diaspora as the poems move between childhood, the family restaurant, and a racist immigration system that demands exceptionality and authenticity. Articulating the multiplicities of experiences and affect in conflict, Togetherness invokes a lyrical address to love, community, and belonging.