Emily Jungmin Yoon, Chen Chen & Javier Zamora

Join us for an evening of readings from poets Emily Jungmin Yoon, Chen Chen, and Javier Zamora, hosted by local poet George Abraham.


In her arresting  debut collection, urgently relevant for our times, poet Emily Jungmin Yoon confronts the histories of sexual violence against women, focusing in particular on Korean so-called “comfort women,” women who were forced into sexual labor in Japanese-occupied territories during World War II.

In wrenching language, A Cruelty Special to Our Species unforgettably describes the brutalities of war and the fear and sorrow of those whose lives and bodies were swept up by a colonizing power, bringing powerful voice to an oppressed group of people whose histories have often been erased and overlooked. “What is a body in a stolen country,” Yoon asks. “What is right in war.”

Yoon will also read from Against Healing: Nine Korean Poets, which she edited and translated as part of the Translating Feminism chapbook series.

Emily Jungmin Yoon is the author of A Cruelty Special to Our Species (Ecco, September 2018) and Ordinary Misfortunes (Tupelo Press, July 2017), winner of the Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize. Her poems and translations have appeared in The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, Poetry, and elsewhere. She has accepted awards and fellowships from Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest, AWP’s WC&C Scholarship Competition, The Home School in Miami, the Aspen Institute, New York University, the University of Chicago, Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and Sarah Lawrence College Summer Seminar for Writers. In 2017, she received the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. She is the Poetry Editor for The Margins, the literary magazine of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD student in Korean literature at the University of Chicago.


In the ferocious and tender debut When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, Chen Chen investigates inherited forms of love and family--the strained relationship between a mother and son, the cost of necessary goodbyes--all from Asian American, immigrant, and queer perspectives. Holding all accountable, this collection fully embraces the loss, grief, and abundant joy that come with charting one's own path in identity, life, and love.

Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award, among other honors. Bloodaxe Books will be publishing a UK edition in June. The recipient of fellowships from Kundiman and the National Endowment for the Arts, Chen’s work appears in many publications, including Poem-a-DayThe Best American Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He holds an MFA from Syracuse University and a PhD from Texas Tech University. Currently he teaches at Brandeis University as the Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence.


Javier Zamora’s debut Unaccompanied assesses borderland politics, race, and immigration on a profoundly personal level, and simultaneously remembers and imagines a birth-country that’s been left behind. Through an unflinching gaze, plainspoken diction, and a combination of Spanish and English, Unaccompanied crosses El Salvador and Mexico as families are lost and reunited, coyotes lead migrants astray, and real life fuses with myth.

Javier Zamora was born in La Herradura, El Salvador in 1990. His father fled El Salvador when he was a year old; and his mother when he was about to turn five. Both parents' migrations were caused by the US-funded Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992). In 1999, Javier migrated through Guatemala, Mexico, and eventually the Sonoran Desert. Before a coyote abandoned his group in Oaxaca, Javier managed to make it to Arizona with the aid of other migrants. His first full-length collection, Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon Press, September 2017), explores how immigration and the civil war have impacted his family. Zamora is a 2018-2019 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University and holds fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University (Olive B. O'Connor), MacDowell, Macondo, the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation (Ruth Lilly), Stanford University, and Yaddo. The recipient of a 2017 Lannan Literary Fellowship, the 2017 Narrative Prize, and the 2016 Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award for his work in the Undocupoets Campaign.


George Abraham (they/he) is a Palestinian-American poet and Bioengineering PhD candidate at Harvard University. They are the author of Birthright (Button Poetry, 2020), as well as two chapbooks: the specimen's apology (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019) and al youm (TAR, 2017). He is a Kundiman, Watering Hole, and Poetry Incubator fellow, winner of the 2018 Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize, and recipient of the Best Poet title from the College Union Poetry Slam International. Their writing has appeared or is forthcoming online with The Paris Review, Tin House, American Poetry Review, LitHub, Boston Review, and in anthologies such as Bettering American Poetry and Nepantla.

Event date: 
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Porter Square Books
25 White St.
Cambridge, MA 02140
A Cruelty Special to Our Species: Poems Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062843685
Availability: Available at Warehouse
Published: Ecco - September 18th, 2018

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (A. Poulin) Cover Image
By Chen Chen, Jericho Brown (Foreword by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781942683339
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: BOA Editions - April 11th, 2017

Unaccompanied Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781556595110
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Copper Canyon Press - September 5th, 2017

The Specimen's Apology Cover Image
By George Abraham, Leila Abdelrazaq (Illustrator)
$17.00
ISBN: 9781943977925
Availability: Available at Warehouse
Published: Sibling Rivalry Press, LLC - January 11th, 2019

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