Spotlight #13: Genève Chao

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.


Colette said, “Look for a long time at what pleases you, and longer still at what gives you pain.” Sometimes these things coincide in the state called absence, which is a condition of the émigré’s life, where displacement is the only quotidian that can be expected and where tendrils of awareness must extend across many oceans.



in flickers
a faraway
field burns

une incendie
lointaine et

as the green
kō in smoke

the news an
ashen country
strewn with
cold hands

le retour to
black clouds
blank earth


the sky

enough to
shake our
shaky ground

en flammes
a fiery
souvenir d’une
vie antérieure

a flicker a

Genève/Geneva Chao is the biracial, bicultural, and bilingual author of one of us is wave one of us is shore, a discours amoureux in French and English (Otis Books | Seismicity Editions), and Hillary Is Dreaming (Make Now Books). Chao’s poetry has also been anthologized in (Some From)DIAGRAM: A Print Anthology(Del Sol Press, 2003) and The L.A. Telephone Book, vol. 2 (2014). Chao is the translator of Gérard Cartier’s Tristran and, with François Luong, of Nicolas Tardy’s Encrusted on the Living (both [lx] press); of Christophe Tarkos for the collection Ma Langue Est Poétique (Roof Books, 2001), and of Yves Di Manno for A Review of Two Worlds: French and American Poetry in Translation (Otis, 2005). In 2015, Chao translated and installed Román Luján’s poem “Playas” in Spanish and English broadsides on the border fence at Playas de Tijuana, Mexico. Chao’s forthcoming manuscript is called émigré.

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