VIDA Reads with Writers – Brynn Saito!

What are you reading on the subway or in the waiting room today?

The beautiful anthology, Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond, edited by Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal, and Ravi Shankar. I’m teaching an international poetry seminar this spring, affording me the long-awaited opportunity to assign (and read) this collection in its entirety! It’s magical, heart-breaking, timely, and so thoughtfully curated.

What book popped for you in 2015? 

41cm1mFX5EL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Citizen, by Claudia Rankine. I loved it for so many reasons — the text/image format, the variances of voice and perspective — but mostly, it opened something up in me, gave me a certain permission to write all the way into my lived reality — microaggressions, macroaggressions, all of it.

Whose words do you return to regularly?

Kimiko Hahn, for her innovations in form and her vulnerable and fierce expressions of longing and grief; James Baldwin, for his vision of love-in-struggle; Larry Levis, for his long-lined poems about the Great Central Valley of California (I grew up in Fresno!); and, lately, Dogen, for his poetic zen philosophies attempting to express what cannot be expressed!

Is there an author you can’t wait to read next?

Amy Uyematsu’s The Yellow Door, which was published last year; Ocean Vuong’s forthcoming Night Sky With Exit Wounds.

What are you working on now? What can VIDA fans look forward to from you next?

My second book of poems, Power Made Us Swoon, will be published in April. As for what I’m currently working on, I’m not entirely sure yet. I’m mostly trying to write write write and see what happens.


brynn saito_headshot 2_by whitney frankBRYNN SOTO is the author of The Palace of Contemplating Departure, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award from Red Hen Press and finalist for the 2013 Northern California Book Award. Her second collection, Power Made Us Swoon, will be published in April, 2016. Born in Fresno, CA, Brynn now lives and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.