The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Monkey Was Here by Jasmine An


This selection, chosen by guest curator Addie Tsai, is from Monkey Was Here by Jasmine An, released by Porkbelly Press in 2020. 

(Un)Definitions

A·sian A·mer·i·can
noun
            1. a citizen of the U.S. of Asian birth or descent
            2. Pǒpǒ grew up in Indonesia and is afraid of snakes.
                        She moved to Michigan and worked for Liberty
                        Mutual
            3. Watching TV, Grandma decided she wanted to make
                        pizza for my dad and his brother

adjective
            1. of, or pertaining to, Asian Americans or their culture
            2. Pǒpǒ stood for hours on street corners in Kalamazoo
                         dressed as the Statue of Liberty
            3. Grandma’s pizzas were made with American cheese
                         and ketchup

Queer
adjective
            1. strange or odd; unusually different; singular
            2. the girl I fingered to Pink Floyd
            3. the elephant we painted on her ceiling with a cocktail
                        of acrylic and nail polish
            4. the waffles I bought her the next morning

verb (used with object)
            1. to question or estrange
            2. to be a friend and preface your request for dating
                        advice with: “You’ve got everything going for you.
                        You’ve got short hair. You’re feminine but not too
                        
feminine. You’re slim. You seem fun. And you’re
                        Asian!”
            (3. Some days, I don’t want to date. I just want to fuck a
                        white man.)

Mon·key
noun
            1. any mammal of the order Primates, except for humans
                        and the anthropoid apes
            2. any God to which my grandparents prayed, hoping he
                        would make their children and their children’s
                        children Chinese again

Third Gen·er·a·tion
adjective
            1. being a member of the third generation of a family to
                         be born in the U.S.
            2. being a member of the second generation of a family
                         to be born in the U.S.
            3. being a member of a family that orders Domino’s
                         pizza online every week
            4. being a member of a family that can afford to order
                         Domino’s pizza online every week
            5. being a member of a family
            6. being confused

Qui·et
noun
            1. the fear I feel at the thought of Chinatown
            2. freedom from noise; peace
            3. the moment after someone asks me for something
                         I cannot give

adjective
            1. making no noise or sound, especially disturbing
                         sounds
            2. letting others die on our watch
            3. restrained in speech and manner
            4. being Asian, but feeling white
            5. feeling white, but being Asian

verb
            1. to be racist
            2. to be woman and Asian in America
            3. to silence
                        to stop the mouth from moving  to turn the eyes to floor
                        to stop the hands from meeting to still the body
                        to stop the mouth from moving  to turn the eyes to floor
                        to stop the hands from meeting to still the body
                        to still want to apologize for not being enough
                                  of anything, but not knowing
                                  how to begin


Jasmine An comes from the Midwest. Her poetry and non-fiction can be found in Black Warrior Review’s Boyfriend Village, Michigan Quarterly Review, Nat. Brut, Waxwing and Best New Poets 2020. She is author of two chapbooks of poetry Naming the No-Name Woman (Two Sylvias Press, 2016) and Monkey Was Here (Porkbelly Press, 2020) and Poetry Editor at Agape Editions. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in English and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Michigan

Addie Tsai (any/all) is a queer nonbinary artist and writer of color. They collaborated with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater on Victor Frankenstein and Camille Claudel, among others. Addie holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. She is the author of the queer Asian young adult novel Dear TwinUnwieldy Creatures, their adult queer biracial retelling of Frankenstein, is forthcoming from Jaded Ibis Press in 2022. They are the Fiction Co-Editor at Anomaly, Staff Writer at Spectrum South, and Founding Editor & Editor in Chief at just femme & dandy.

Leave a Reply