I Wore My Blackest Hair
By Carlina Duan



In I Wore My Blackest Hair (Little A, 2017), Fulbright grant and Edna Meudt Memorial Award recipient Carlina Duan delivers an electric debut collection of poetry. With defiance and wild joy, Duan’s poems wrestle with and celebrate ancestry and history, racial consciousness, and the growing pains of girlhood. They explore difficult truths with grace and power. I Wore My Blackest Hair is an honest portrait of a woman in-between—identities, places, languages, and desires—and her quest to belong. The speaker is specific in her self-definition, discovering and reinventing what it means to be a bold woman, what it means to be Chinese American, and what it means to grow into adulthood. Duan moves seamlessly from the personal to the imaginative to the universal, heralding a brilliant new voice in contemporary poetry.



“Carlina Duan’s poems are tender and lined with teeth. In I Wore My Blackest Hair, her speaker navigates diaspora and its incumbent losses—of family, of language, of face—with unflinching care, revealing complex textures and concrete magic. Through it all, she maintains a fierce dedication to the small and sensual. These are poems that live in the world of rain and mint, of mosquito nets, of the heart’s ‘luscious whir.’ Here, praise song and elegy gather to slice plums in the kitchen. A woman faces grief with her eyes wide open and pledges allegiance to the grass. Duan’s is a voice that ‘demand[s] morning’—that sings, and bites, and invites you to soften long enough to be astonished.” —Franny Choi, author of Floating, Brilliant, Gone and Death by Sex Machine

“Carlina Duan’s debut is a necessary text. In this time (which is all times) where the question of who gets to be American shapes the lives of the othered and the dispossessed we need these books that allow us to demand space for all. This is a work deeply engaged with what it means to love family and country. What a gift we have been given to have this thing to love. Heart is an understatement for what this book offers. This is a book I will cherish.” —Nate Marshall, author of Wild Hundreds




I heart meeting readers! If you want to talk to me about the book or buy a copy from me directly, let me know via email at carlinawrites@gmail.com.