To Whitey and the Crackerjack by Hauntie
To Whitey and the Cracker Jack will look directly into your eyes and will not blink. It will speak the lives of people you don’t know you’ve forgotten -- unless you, too, have been visited by Hauntie, “the one with ninja stars and chopstick flies.” May Yang’s poetry pierces the silence in which the history of Hmong women has been blanketed, with indecorous wordplay, unruly rhymes, and evocative, unequivocal images. This book begins by naming names (America, global capitalism) and ends by revivifying the poetic epigram. I am drawn to these poems like a moth to flame -- drawn by their heat, by their light.
Alive with ancestral pain and steadfast in its dispossessed ferocity, Hauntie’s first collection of poems radiates with a wise rage transferred from generations before. By reattaching vocal chords to the spirit of the Hmong auntie-mother, Hauntie honors the trauma and eternal grieving of the woman who sees and experiences all, from a war littered with its many ghosts, to a land of childhood summers in
Fresno. That this powerful work comes to us from a Hmong woman poet attests to the continued springing of literature in the Hmong American community along with its necessity and importance. These words that experiment with form and voice soar in their need to speak back to the self, the other, and the adversary in order to re-scribe its own vengeance. A remarkable debut, each poem howls back like a wolf far from being tethered.
—Mai Der Vang