Alterity & History Curated & introduced by Wendy Chen

How can history–that of ourselves, historical figures, words, or social concepts–inform us about how we conceive of “the other”? How can we explore multiplicities of history through poetry? How can alternative visions of the past offer alternative ways to reimagine our present or our futures? 

In this portfolio of work, six writers gather under the theme of “alterity and history.” A range of subjects are explored with startling clarity–from Andrew Nicholson’s interrogations of language and etymology to Emelie Griffin’s studies of memory, longing, and the feminine. Other writers like Kathy Wu and Patrick Dundon consider what it means to love and to lose, while Jan Verberkmoes and Mandy Gutmann-Gonzalez contemplate violences threaded through history. I am pleased to introduce this collection that offers nuanced observations on the relationship between alterity and history.    

Wendy Chen is the author of the novel Their Divine Fires (Algonquin Books) and the poetry collection Unearthings (Tavern Books). Her translations of Song-dynasty woman writer Li Qingzhao are forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2025 in a collection titled The Magpie at Night. Chen is the recipient of prizes and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, MacDowell, & elsewhere. Her writing has appeared widely in prestigious venues such as Freeman’s, A Public Space, & Mid-American Review. Her work has been translated into multiple languages and adapted into musical compositions. She has taught and spoken at colleges, universities, and arts organizations such as the Academy of American Poets, Poets & Writers, Poetry Foundation, & Yale University. She is the editor of Figure 1 and associate editor-in-chief of Tupelo Quarterly. Previously, she was the poetry and translation editor of Denver Quarterly. She earned her MFA in poetry from Syracuse University and her PhD in English from the University of Denver. Currently, she is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.