“J. Mae Barizo is a poet of uncommon grace. These poems are a singing gift.” —Sarah Ruhl
Set against the backdrop of a changing urban landscape, the poems in TENDER MACHINES swing between the domestic and the surreal, charting motherhood, desire and an immigrant family’s haunted inheritance. Mapping the lives of women and the lives they inhabit, poems such as “Small Essays on Disappearance,”—which channel the aftermath of motherhood and 9-11—collide with aubades describing mornings in a ruined city: “buying food at the bodegas…nectarines and skin-tight plums.” The poems in Tender Machines live in the space between the public and the private, braiding an intimate narrative. This is an intersectional portrait of womanhood with all its losses, departures and wonders.
“J. Mae Barizo is a poet of uncommon grace. The poems in Tender Machines are unafraid of pain; they herald the mothers and take stock of the colonizers. These poems are a singing gift.” —Sarah Ruhl
“In Tender Machines, intimacy becomes a kind of astonishment. The poems dance between innocence and experience as Barizo takes on the archetypes of Maiden and Mother, their freedoms and constraints. Staged between 9-11 and our current pandemic-infused apocalypse, familiar landscapes of Manhattan turn mythical as our Poet drifts, following where desire leads. The questioning of youth traverses into the erotics of post-Motherhood, forty the boundary line the poet crosses and recrosses, back and forth across a lyrical divide. Like our tender Penelope with her many suitors waiting for Odysseus to come home, Barizo contemplates old loves, pulling out all her stitches as she goes.” —Timothy Liu
“J. Mae Barizo’s Tender Machines is a sinuous wonder that explores the poles of revelation and disappearance. It is a meditation on tenderness, yes, and gives haunting new language to the in-betweens of motherhood, love, anguish, and empire. With music and lyricism as twin pillars, Tender Machines is a breathtaking second collection by a masterful poet.” —Rio Cortez
Poetry. Asian & Asian American Studies.
Born in Toronto to Filipino immigrants, J. Mae Barizo is a poet, essayist and multidisciplinary artist who works at the intersection of poetics, media and performance. She is the author of two books of poetry, The Cumulus Effect (Four Way Books, 2015) and Tender Machines (Tupelo Press, 2023). Pink Noise, a book of hybrid essays on John Cage and the poetics of sound was a finalist for the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize. Her work has been anthologized in books published by W.W. Norton, Atelier Editions and Harvard University Press. An advocate of cross-disciplinary work, she has collaborated with artists such as Salman Rushdie, Mark Morris and the American String Quartet. As a librettist, she is the inaugural recipient of Opera America's IDEA residency; her opera on migration and climate change, DRIFT, is in development at the National Opera Center. She is also the recipient of fellowships and awards from Bennington College, Mellon Foundation, Critical Minded, Jerome Foundation and Poets House. Recent writing appears in Poetry, Ploughshares, Esquire, Los Angeles Review of Books, Paris Review Daily, Boston Review, BookForum, among others. She is on the board of Kundiman, an organization supporting writers and readers from the Asian diaspora. She has taught writing and transdisciplinary studies at the Pratt Institute, Eugene Lang and Parsons School of Design. She is on the faculty of The New School and lives in New York City.