Vice-royal-ties is the book-length English-language début of the tusán (Chinese Peruvian) writer Julia Wong Kcomt. The title of Bi-rey-nato, Wong Kcomt’s sixth poetry collection, is a homonym for “virreinato” or “viceroyalty,” but can also be broken down into its component words: “bi” (bi/two), “rey” (king), and “nato” (born). Likewise, these poems—which Brandon Shimoda calls “lucid, lactic, slyly sensuous invitations into hypervigilance” and Katrina Dodson says “sweep you into the tender points of the diasporic soul”—play with binaries: in power, love, language, country, identity. The saline air of seaside Lima, the setting of the first section, crystallizes into the salt that trails through the second section, set mostly in Argentina. Vice-royal-ties is #15 in Señal, Ugly Duckling Presse’s Latin American poetry chapbook series.
Vice-royal-ties will be out via Ugly Duckling Press in December 2021
Come closer and consider the words
keeps a thousand secret faces beneath its neutral one
Carlos Drummond de Andrade
If I possessed the freshness of twenty madreselva blooms
I would start over with my love in Macau and in
The sertão becomes a second skin.
Strange, a green sugarloaf,
assemblage of words with navy blue that
stimulate proper digestion.
My almanac is full of forms in English, in
German, in Spanish.
My heart, how do I make space for a new
landscape? Do kisses exist in Portuguese? What part
of love is written in Portuguese? How do I unplug
The world is a phenomenon unchaining
Now I see a lovely little boy, a man who looks like
un pão a piece of
de povo. people’s bread
And I see witches and incomprehensible dances,
a rusted woman in Oceania.
In front of me, a man occupied by many voices.
But this is another nightmare: after the towers
fell, we women couldn’t love in all
choose the nationality of our lovers.
Eu no posso parar I can’t stop
eu no posso esquecer can’t forget
eu no posso amar a você can’t love you
If I’d been born Muslim,
if I’d been born Bolivian,
my mother would not collapse like a tower
(I am not from the sierra,
I don’t speak Quechua,
it’s all the same
to be from Chepén or the Himalayas,
but you only get one mother.)
hay una sola.
That ought to be enough for the sea to part in two
so I can walk all the way to Macau.
Translated by Jennifer Shyue