Jane Wong


Jane Wong is the author of How to Not Be Afraid of Everything from Alice James Books (2021) and Overpour from Action Books (2016). Her debut memoir, Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City, is forthcoming from Tin House in 2023. 

She holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington and is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Western Washington University. Her poems can be found in places such as Best American Nonrequired Reading 2019, Best American Poetry 2015, The New York Times, American Poetry Review, POETRY, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, and others. Her essays have appeared in places such as McSweeney's, Black Warrior Review, Ecotone, The Common, The Georgia Review, Shenandoah, and This is the Place: Women Writing About Home.

A Kundiman fellow, she is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships and residencies from the U.S. Fulbright Program, Artist Trust, Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room, 4Culture, the Fine Arts Work Center, Bread Loaf, Hedgebrook, Willapa Bay, the Jentel Foundation, SAFTA,  Mineral School, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Loghaven, and others.

The recipient of the James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award for Washington artists, her first solo art show “After Preparing the Altar, the Ghosts Feast Feverishly” was exhibited at the Frye Art Museum in 2019. Her artwork will also be a part of “Nourish,” an exhibition at the Richmond Art Gallery in 2022. She is also a scholar of Asian American poetry and poetics and the creator of the digital project "The Poetics of Haunting,” based upon her scholarly manuscript, Going Toward the Ghost: The Poetics of Haunting in Contemporary Asian American Poetry. Source 

How to Not Be Afraid of Everything

How to not punch everyone in the face. 

How to not protect everyone’s eyes from 

my own punch. I have been practicing 

my punch for years, loosening my limbs. 

My jaw unhinged creates a felony I refuse 

to go to court for. The fat spam pools 

in the sun, reminding me of my true feelings. 

My feelings leak from my ear like a bad cold

in a bad storm. Stars huddle in a corner, 

little radiators sweating out their fear. 

An opossum reaches his arm up from a porch. 

I hold onto his arm for a little while, for 

a little warmth. At night, my subterranean eye

begins to rove. Song of the underground, 

song of the rat tribe. I see my mother in

an apron splattered with viscera I will eat

for dinner. To gut her work out, to work

her guts out. Can we talk about privilege? 

Can I say I always look behind me? I always

look behind me. I always take a step forward

like I’m about to save myself from toppling

over. The bare bones of it: some of us know 

that spoiled meat still counts as protein. 

That a horse’s neck snaps from the weight

of what it carries, from the weight of what

we give it to carry. I bundle up a sack of

clouds, empty of rain and fear and lightning. 





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Strength & Resilience

Literary Devices:


the usage of words in a clause that are repeated in reverse order


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Sensory Detail

words used to invoke the five senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell)


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”