Selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil as the winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, Danni Quintos carves a space for brown girls and weird girls in her debut collection of poems.
Two Brown Dots explores what it means to be a racially ambiguous, multiethnic, Asian American woman growing up in Kentucky. In stark, honest poems, Quintos recounts the messiness and confusion of being a typical '90s kid--watching Dirty Dancing at sleepovers, borrowing eye shadow out of a friend's caboodle, crushing on a boy wearing khaki shorts to Sunday mass--while navigating the microagressions of the neighbor kids, the awkwardness of puberty, and the casual cruelties of fellow teenagers. The mixed-race daughter of a dark skinned Filipino immigrant, Quintos retells family stories and Phillipine folklore to try and make sense of an identity with roots on opposite sides of the globe.
With clear-eyed candor and a wry sense of humor, Quintos teases the line between tokenism and representation, between assimilation and belonging, offering a potent antidote to the assumption that "American" means "white." Encompassing a whole journey from girlhood to motherhood, Two Brown Dots subverts stereotypes to reclaim agency and pride in the realness and rawness and unprettyness of a brown girl's body, boldly declaring: We exist, we belong, we are from here, and we will continue to be.