In his latest poetry collection, Anhvu Buchanan illuminates the challenges that make the survival and endurance of Asian American heroes all the more miraculous and worth celebrating.
The Peeling of a Name is an exploration of the idea and the power of names, what it means to grow up Asian American, what it means to be Asian American during a time in our country with so much violence and hate towards Asians and Asian Americans. It is filled with odes to Anhvu's family, his people, his culture, his heroes, and his inspirations. The Peeling of a Name is a love poem, an apology, and an explanation, hoping you gain a better understanding of what it means to be an Asian American in the past, present, and future.
“In his latest poetry collection, Anhvu Buchanan strikes out in a bold direction, combining the ambitious cataloguing thoroughness that has long characterized his work with a cathartic sincerity and emotional transparency that feel new. This is a book for this present historical moment, when the COVID-19 pandemic has made anti-Asian hatred in the U.S. more visible than ever; at the same time, it is an intimate personal narrative, situating one writer's coming-of-age experiences in the context of his nation's. In open-hearted poems that generously extend understanding toward a wide array of complicated pop culture figures significant to Asian Americans, ranging from the James Bond antagonist Oddjob to the tennis star Naomi Osaka, Buchanan traces a throughline from stereotypical media portrayals of Asians like Fu Manchu to the surge in hate crimes affecting Asian Americans today. He uses erasure techniques to engage in conversation with sometimes-controversial texts, erasing words to counter the erasure of human beings, illuminating the challenges that make the survival and endurance of our Asian American heroes all the more miraculous and worth celebrating.” —Jenna Le, author of Manatee Lagoon
“A gesture—slight and fierce, open and wise, wistful and angry—against all that is blind and wrong, and reaching towards something heroic, something generous and bright.” — Daniel Handler, author of Bottle Grove
“Yes, the names they called us got under the skin. But in Anhvu Buchanan’s marvelous 3rd collection, the skin speaks: in odes and love poems, in questions and incantations. ‘What does it mean to be alive without a name without a body without a spirit to call my own?’ We are alive, Buchanan reminds us, survivors of oceans, inheritors of blank pages and haunted bones. I delight in the work this book is doing: unmasking rage, deconstructing racist myths, and us calling back to the vibrant legacy of AAPI artists with lyrical love poems to Margaret Cho, Bruce Lee, Truong Tran, and so many others. The Peeling of a Name is a beautiful and necessary collection from a brother with a livewire heart.” —Brynn Saito, author of Power Made Us Swoon
“The poems in this momentous collection linger in the mind in the same way as the words of Maxine Hong Kingston–an explication of hauntology that exposes the truths of Americana. A reminder that this place has tried many times to ‘tame [and silence] wild tongues’ and failed, but without leaving an impression–a scar–an aftertaste from ‘the back of a memory.’ These poems are a celebration of all the moments in which ‘something has tried to kill [Anhvu Buchanan] and has failed.’” - Vernon (Trey) Keeve III, author of Southern Migrant Mixtape
Poetry. Asian & Asian American Studies.
Anhvu Buchanan is the author of The Disordered (sunnyoutside press) and Backhanded Compliments & Other Ways to Say I Love You (Works on Paper Press). He was the recipient of the James D. Phelan Award and also received an Individual Artists Grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission. He received an MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State. He currently teaches in San Francisco.