Em (she/he/they) Bookseller at Brooklyn & Jersey City
Bookseller Bio: Emdash AKA Emily Lu Gao is the creator & host of WORD's Open Mic, writer, poet, educator, organizer, hoot, and daughter of Chinese immigrants. Some of her favorite books are All About Love by bell hooks, Hyperbole & A Half by Allie Brosh, and Splendor by Lucille Clifton,
Their own writing is published in underblong. sine theta, poetry.onl, Kissing Dynamite, The Bellingham Review, Mochi Magazine, The Rumpus, Split Magazine, YLWRNGR and more. They’ve performed at The San Diego Art Institute, ACLU San Diego, Sunday Jump, Unnameable Books and more. They credit open mics for tuning her voice, comfort with her bipolar diagnosis, and appreciates her fully funded MFA in Poetry from Rutgers-Newark. When not writing, she is likely watching drag, 璐璐, or at therapy. She lives on Leneape Land (“Jersey City, NJ”). Any/all pronouns welcome!
Ghost Of is a mourning song, not an exorcism or un-haunting of that which haunts, but attuned attention, unidirectional reaching across time, space, and distance to reach loved ones, ancestors, and strangers. By working with, in, and around the photographs that her brother left behind (from which he cut himself out before his death), Nguyen wrestles with what remains: memory, physical voids, and her family captured around an empty space.
I prefer poetry that is irreverent, funny, and embracing of the times---much like Tayi Tibble’s debut collection, Poukahangatus. The title is a Maori word of her creation meant to echo and evoke Pocahontas. (Tibble explains that the word has no literal translation, but "pou" in te rao Maori means pillar or pole and "kaha" power or strength. This coming-of-age book charmingly depicts life as a 21st century Maori woman, drawing on memories of clubbing, childhood, family, and more. Notable poems inside include "Vampire versus Werewolves", "LBD" and "A Sugar Daddy is Essentially an Arts Patron". Happy reading.
"This captivating, witty, and macabre dystopian short-story collection is a must-read. Numerous urgent "what ifs?" are unpacked with electric humor and a brilliantly engaging narrator. Themes like Blackness, accountability, complacency, American folly, and surrealism are prevalent, handled with precision and empathy. My favorite short story is either “Zimmer Land” or the titular story "Friday Black", which pulls from the annual capitalist day of stampede inducing sales. "Zimmer Land" is about a theme park whose white patrons get to enact—or as it is marketed "problem solve"—their fantasies. In other words, these racist white patrons are encouraged by the amusement park to act out their violent desires against people of color they find threatening.
If your interest is piqued, I highly recommend dashing over here to buy this and Adjei-Brenyah's newest book, Chain-Gang All-Stars." -Em