Interpellation for the Monstrosity in Identity: Melissa R. Sipin reviews NESTS AND STRANGERS

“The monster is that being who refused to adapt to her circumstances.”
— Bhanu Kapil, Incubation (86)

Nests and Strangers (ed. Timothy Yu)

Nests and Strangers:
On Asian American Women Poets

Edited with an intro by Timothy Yu
Afterward by Mg Roberts.
(Kelsey Street Press, 2015)

America, the monstrous. America, in its quest for identity, nationalism and imperialism, is at a loss when it comes to identity. It is always erupting, has been erupting, confused, combusting. It is difficult to maneuver through the combustion, especially as subjects denied of personhood, as subjects who carry invisibility, as subjects who were colonized, massacred, erased.

It is rare for Americans to mention the Philippine-American War. And as a Filipina American writer, my familia’s trauma of immigration is rooted in this erasure, in this (anti-) narrative. We are not taught our genocide. We are not taught why we escaped, left, were called dogeaters, were called feral, primitive, animals. Race, sometimes, becomes a topic of silence among Asian Americans. It could be perpetuated by hiya (shame). Or the Model Minority Myth. The will to assimilate, to forget the violent appropriation and erasure of black / brown bodies, is apparent and devouring, you can see it, hear it, watch it on the news, read it in art, see it performed like a mistral show (Goldsmith’s and Place’s racist spectacles come to mind). Continue reading