Sally Wen Mao: Can Poets be Bad Bitches? The Answer is Yes
January 15, 2016
Time: 31 January at 15:00–16:30
Join us for an afternoon with poet Sally Wen Mao, who's visiting from National University of Singapore, where she's the 2015-2016 Writer-in-Residence at the Singapore Creative Writing Residency.
About her talk, Sally says: 'What does it mean to be a “bad bitch” in the context of writing poetry? Is it writing outside the margins or cracking open a silence that needs to speak? Is it fearless, subversive, transgressive, promiscuous, assertive, unapologetic? Or is it a more quiet resistance to the status quo? Is it a reflection of duende, a hand-to-hand combat with the inner artistic demon, a heightened awareness of death, earthiness, dirt, and a dash of the diabolical?
'Maybe I will answer one of these questions. Maybe I will answer none. In my talk, I will discuss how I draw inspiration from this mythical “bad bitch” persona. I will identify real-life bad bitch poets, artists, musicians, rappers, and cultural icons, and explain how that has fuelled my work as a poet and writer. In 2014, I led a workshop at Poet’s House called “Bad Bitch Poetics,” meant to explore the intersection between poetry and hip hop. It became something much bigger – the workshop became about women’s artistic self-empowerment, intersectionality, expression, and identity in the face of shame, silence, and oppression. The sentiment is that Audre Lorde’s “A Woman Speaks” is not that different from Nicki Minaj’s “Fly”. Hopefully we’ll arrive at our own definition of “bad bitch poetics”, and how we can all become our own “bad bitches”.'
Sally Wen Mao is the author of /Mad Honey Symposium/ (Alice James Books, 2014), the winner of the 2012 Kinereth Gensler Award and a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Pick of Fall 2014. Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2013 and published in Poetry, Black Warrior Review, Guernica, jubilat, The Missouri Review, and Washington Square, among others. The recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Hedgebrook, and Saltonstall Foundation, she holds an M.F.A. from Cornell University.