When did you first recognize me as your own?: A Folio of Undocupoets Fellows

April 16, 2020

Image Credit: "Freedom" by Luz Adriana Villa via Flickr

This April, in honor of National Poetry Month, the poetry section is pleased to feature the work of four extraordinary Asian American writers in collaboration with Undocupoets. Below you will find a table of contents with links to each piece.

— Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, Poetry Editor



Though immigrants from Asia or who are of Asian descent are the fastest-growing population of undocumented people living in the United States, we remain overwhelmingly invisible in immigration discourse. Our visibility, no doubt, would further trouble the “model minority” stereotype — a label that is already harmful enough for its flattening of Asian Americans into a single, gleaming group. In the false construction of an Asian American monolith, our individual and cultural differences are as much erased as our distinct immigration stories, circumstances and statuses. 

This folio of new poems, by recipients of the Undocupoets Fellowship, an annual grant awarded to poets who are currently or who were formerly undocumented, is a document against the erasure of our personhood — our experiences and their aftermaths — from immigration, Asian American and American narratives. Poets laurel c., Frankie Concepcion, Jan-Henry Gray and Anni Liu write into the vulnerable space — visibility — that Audre Lorde asserts “is the source of our greatest strength.” What they make visible are the protective silences, exiles and returns from exile, and wavering familial ties that make survival possible. What they make visible are also the pleasures, sensual and gastronomic, syntactic and figurative. 

The Undocupoets organization is committed to promoting the work of poets who are currently or who were formerly undocumented and raising consciousness about the structural barriers that they face in the literary community. We believe in supporting all poets, regardless of immigration status. To learn more about the Undocupoets Fellowship and our additional Fellows, please visit us here.

—Janine Joseph and Esther Lin, Undocupoets Co-Organizers

laurel c., 2019 Fellow
Frankie Concepcion, 2019 Fellow
Jan-Henry Gray, 2017 Fellow
Anni Liu, 2017 Fellow


Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello

Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello is the author of Hour of the Ox (University of Pittsburgh, 2016), winner of the 2015 AWP Donald Hall Poetry Prize and 2016 Florida Book Award bronze medal. She has received poetry fellowships from Kundiman, the Knight Foundation and the American Literary Translators Association, and her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Best Small Fictions, The New York Times and elsewhere. www.marcicalabretta.com