Which of your own poems is currently your personal favorite, and why?
Film Analysis Techniques
Whose perspective does the camera represent? Whose eyes? I stare. How am I any different than the hungry sockets of men? What if my hand slips between my legs? What if I moan? Which sounds are diegetic? What if I moan? The music is supposed to be Mandarin. The soldiers are shouting in ching-chong-wing-wong, not Chinese. The woman doesn’t make a sound; her back is a silent arch; it’s bare. Does the use of light call attention to itself? Do I squint? Shadows drip off the crease of her spine. I’m staring still. Her lips are roughed red, but this film is black and white. What if the gauze clinging to her nipple slips? The bow of her breast is against my cheek already. Does the mise-en-scene manipulate my experience of time? I looked already. Her skin in my eyes already. What if I forget which decade we each belong to? I watch her wrap her fingers into the air above her head and when she pulls it’s my lungs that empty.
Answer: I have to thank Heavy Feather Review for inspiring my current favorite poem. Recently, HFR put their old print archives online, including my poem “Film Analysis Techniques.” This poem is part of my first chapbook Naming the No-Name Woman, a conversation with and invocation of actress Anna May Wong who was one of the early, Chinese American Hollywood stars. Rereading this poem for the first time in several years reminded me that I love this poem because it was written at a time that I was still finding my way to calling myself a “real poet” (whatever that means). I still remember that as I finished the first draft of “Film Analysis Techniques” I felt one of those clicks when the moment seemed to settle perfectly into place and I realized that arranging these words together had taught me something about myself that I hadn’t known how to learn before.
Jasmine An comes from the Midwest. Her chapbook, Naming the No-Name Woman, won the 2015 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize. She is an alumna of Hedgebrook and Willapa Bay AiR, and her work can be found in Stirring: A Literary Collection,Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Nat. Brut and Waxwing, among others. Currently, she is an Editor at Agape Editions and pursuing a PhD in English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.