Shelley Wong Recommends...

To escape the net, I need to dance it out—to return to my body and its elated improvisation. With my first book, As She Appears, it was a careful writing and, at times, a difficult one. I wrote the poems over a decade, in the aftermath of a queer relationship that began when I was nineteen and ended when I was thirty-one and entering graduate school. I was thinking about the poems I longed to find when I was a young woman of color, the ones I wanted to write for that girl and my community. I knew I needed to spend time with the work and dwell in conflicting emotions, both joy and sorrow.

Whenever I worked on these poems as part of an artist community, I was always scheming to have a dance party (the most intriguing artistic collaboration). Music sets me at ease, allows me to surrender to instinct. The happiest gathering is on a dance floor—the collective cheers and hollering, impromptu circles, surprising talents, shy and ecstatic dance moves. The pause and drop to the new track—the transitions! The best dance parties are like my favorite poetry collections—an eclectic, surprising journey. Play Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” BTS’s “Outro: Wings,” Eve’s “Tambourine,” Beach House’s “Lazuli,” and feel your heart move.
—Shelley Wong, author of As She Appears (YesYes Books, 2022)  

Photo credit: Margarita Corporan