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Bodily departures: Jennifer Huang’s ‘Return Flight’

On the left, a black and white photo of poet Jennifer Huang; on the right, an image of Huang’s colorful book cover, ‘Return Flight’: A figure with dark hair in a red jumpsuit, standing in water and blowing a leaf or a petal into the air above them.
Jennifer Huang

This week, Lauren speaks with Taiwanese poet Jennifer Huang about their debut collection, Return Flight (Milkweed Editions). These poems, with titles like “Customs” and “Departures,” are the poems of someone examining their learned behaviors beside their desires, their haunted familial histories beside joy, and intimacy, and laughter. For all of the harrowing moments in Return Flight, there is an equal amount of pleasure—pleasure of the self and of the world in which the self resides and flourishes.

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Huang is the author of Return Flight, which was awarded the 2021 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry from Milkweed Editions. Their poems have appeared in POETRY, The Rumpus, and Narrative Magazine, among other places; and they have been received recognition from the Academy of American Poets, Brooklyn Poets, North American Taiwan Studies Association, and more. In 2020, Jennifer earned their M.F.A. in Poetry at the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program. Born in Maryland to Taiwanese immigrants, they have since called many places home.

Jennifer Huang recommends:

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (Grand Central Publishing)

The Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin (Picador USA)

Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan (Vintage Books)

Lauren Korn recommends:

Soft Science by Franny Choi (Alice James Books)

Past Lives, Future Bodies by K-Ming Chang (Black Lawrence Press)

The Year of Blue Water by Yanyi (Yale University Press)

Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen (Coffee House Press)

The Red Zone: A Love Story by Chloe Caldwell (forthcoming from Soft Skull Press)

The Write Question team is Lauren Korn, host and co-producer; Peter Hoag, co-producer and editor; and Tom Berich, sound engineer.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at iamthemollruss.com and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now the host of Montana Public Radio’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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