Virtual Poetry Reading: Focal Point by Jenny Qi

Please join us in celebrating the poetry collection Focal Point by Jenny Qi! For this reading, Qi will be joined by Ananda Lima and Dustin Pearson. This virtual event will take place on our Crowdcast channel. Attendees must register for the event via Crowdcast.  



Winner of the 2020 Steel Toe Books Poetry Award, Focal Point is a scientist's unofficial dissertation, a daughter's faithful correspondence, and a coming-of-age story. Written largely while Jenny Qi was a young Ph.D. student conducting cancer research after her beloved mother's death from cancer, the collection turns to "all the rituals of all the faiths," invoking Western and Eastern mythology and history, metaphors from cell biology, and even Jimi Hendrix, as Qi searches for a container to hold grief. The opening poem of this debut collection primes us to consider all definitions of the titular "focal point," as the speaker evaluates this moment of early loss beneath a literal and metaphoric microscope. Here, the past and future converge, but from here, what does divergence look like? What can a scientific mind do except interrogate and attempt to measure the unknown and immeasurable? These poems, at once tender and suffused with wry humor, diverse in form and scope, go on to navigate illness, early relationships, racism, climate change, mass shootings, and the COVID-19 pandemic, unflinching in the face of death and the darker side of human nature. At its core, Focal Point is an uncompromising interrogation of how to be alive in the world, always loving something that has been or is in the process of being lost.


Jenny Qi is the author of Focal Point, winner of the 2020 Steel Toe Books Poetry Award. Her essays and poems have been published in The New York TimesThe Atlantic, and elsewhere, and she has received fellowships and support from Tin House, Omnidawn, Kearny Street Workshop, and the San Francisco Writers Grotto. Born in Pennsylvania to Chinese immigrants, she grew up mostly in Las Vegas and Nashville and now lives in San Francisco, where she completed her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology. She is working on more essays and poems and translating her late mother’s memoirs of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and immigration to the U.S.

Ananda Lima is the author of Mother/land (Black Lawrence Press, 2021), winner of the Hudson Prize, and four chapbooks: Vigil (Get Fresh Books, 2021), Tropicália (Newfound, 2021), Amblyopia (Bull City Press, 2020), and Translation (Paper Nautilus, 2019). Her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review,, Kenyon Review Online, Gulf Coast, Poet Lore, Poetry Northwest, Pleiades, and elsewhere. She has an MA in Linguistics (UCLA) and an MFA in Creative Writing (Rutgers-Newark).

Dustin Pearson is the author of A Season in Hell with Rimbaud (BOA Editions, 2022), Millennial Roost (C&R Press, 2018), and A Family Is a House (C&R Press, 2019). In 2019, The Root named Dustin one of nine black poets working in “academic, cultural and government institutions committed to elevating and preserving the poetry artform.” The recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, and The Anderson Center at Tower View, Pearson has served as the editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review and a Director of the Clemson Literary Festival. The recipient of the Katherine C. Turner and John Mackay Shaw Academy of American Poets Awards and a 2021 Pushcart Prize, his work also appears in The NationPoetry NorthwestBlackbirdThe Boiler, Bennington Review, TriQuarterlyThe Literary ReviewThe Cortland Review, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing at the University of Tulsa.

Please note: Our virtual events are recorded and viewable anytime on Women & Children First's Crowdcast Channel. The recordings are later uploaded with closed captioning to our YouTube Channel within a week or two of the event. 

Image Description: A light red banner with a faint leaf pattern background and navy font, featuring a photo of the author Jenny Qi and the book cover for Focal Point. Text reads: "Women & Children First welcomes Jenny Qi with Ananda Lima and Dustin Pearson, Thursday, April 21, 7 PM CST via Crowdcast.  

Event date: 
Thursday, April 21, 2022 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Focal Point By Jenny Qi Cover Image
ISBN: 9781949540260
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Steel Toe Books - October 13th, 2021

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