Return Flight

Poetry

Return Flight

Poems
“[An] avid, observant debut . . . The poems here chart the path from past to present wherever it leads, coolly and curiously.”—NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
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The Rumpus Poetry Book Club Selection for January 2022

Selected by Jos Charles as the winner of the 2021 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry, Return Flight is a lush reckoning: with inheritance, with body, with trauma, with desire—and with the many tendons in between.

When Return Flight asks “what name / do you crown yourself,” Jennifer Huang answers with many. Textured with mountains—a folkloric goddess-prison, Yushan, mother, men, self—and peppered with shapeshifting creatures, spirits, and gods, the landscape of Huang’s poems is at once mystical and fleshy, a “myth a mess of myself.” Sensuously, Huang depicts each of these not as things to claim but as topographies to behold and hold.

Here, too, is another kind of mythology. Set to the music of “beating hearts / through objects passed down,” the poems travel through generations—among Taiwan, China, and America—cataloging familial wounds and beloved stories. A grandfather’s smile shining through rain, baby bok choy in a child’s bowl, a slap felt decades later—the result is a map of a present-day life, reflected through the past.

Return Flight is a thrumming debut that teaches us how history harrows and heals, often with the same hand; how touch can mean “purple” and “blue” as much as it means intimacy; and how one might find a path toward joy not by leaving the past in the past, but by “[keeping a] hand on these memories, / to feel them to their ends.”

 

Keywords: 
Taiwan, immigration, Chinese folklore, family relationships, intimacy, LGBTQ+ poetry, erasure, travel, magical realism, non-binary poetry, childbirth, birth, ghosts, generational trauma, abuse, embodiment
ISBN:
9781571315281
Publish Date: 
01/18/2022
Pages: 
96
Size: 
8.5 × 5.5 × 0.25 in
Weight: 
5.2 oz
Author

Jennifer Huang is the author of Return Flight, which was awarded the 2021 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry. Huang was born in Maryland to Taiwanese immigrants and has since called many places their home.

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