Sally Wen Mao’s Oculus

Larissa Pham at Poetry Magazine:

Mao was born in Wuhan, China, and moved to the United States at age five. She draws upon her experience of Chinese and Asian American visual culture, which saturates the book with allusions so dense the text requires endnotes. Her landscape is the detritus of television and cinema and internet webcams, the jetstream of the image in an era when most everything has become visual matter. In the aforementioned interview with the Creative Independent, Mao describes the themes at the heart of Oculus: “It’s obsessed with spectacle and being looked at, but it also is aware of all the violence that comes with being looked at.”

Occidentalism,” a poem early in the book, is a useful guide for how to read the collection. Its subject is the world of text: “A man celebrates erstwhile conquests, / his book locked in a silo, still in print. // I scribble, make Sharpie lines, deface / its text like it defaces me.”

more here.