The poetry of Maw Shein Win

Monday, April 28, 2014

In the late 1980s, Phoebe MacAdams and I ran a poetry reading series, at the Gasoline Alley Coffee House on Melrose, that we inherited from its founder, Harry Northup. One of the poets who read in that series was Tim Donnelly, who seemed to disappear sometime in the early 1990s. The attrition rate for aspiring rates has not gone down in my lifetime, and I figured that he had stopped writing. At the Long Beach Poetry Festival in the Fall, 2012, however, I found myself talking with a member of the audience on the sidewalk outside the venue and he introduced himself as Tim Donnelly, and told me that he had been living in San Francisco for a number of years. I asked him to send me some poems for Neeli Cherkovski and me to consider for Cross-Strokes, an anthology-in-progress. In the note that accompanied his poems, Tim said, “There was a time I studied Poetry Loves Poetry like a writing manual.” It was gratifying to learn that a young poet had made use of my anthology, which was published back in 1985, as a means of developing his poetics. Tim furthermore impressed me by showing his generosity towards other poets. In sending along his poems via e-mail, he also cc’d his friend, Maw Shein Win, “an awesome poet who fits the LA/Bay Area profile of your project.” I say that Tim was generous in that he was taking a risk by passing along information to a potential contributor to the anthology. For all he knew, we might end up having to decide between his friend and him for the final spot in the table of contents. I don’t think this fear ever occurred to him. What mattered to Tim, I would guess, is that a poet he admired would have a chance to get her work published.

Maw Win did write, and it turned out that she, too, was a fan of PLP. “Like Tim, “Poetry Loves Poetry” was such an influential collection for me and included many poet friends and teachers while I lived and worked in Southern California. (I studied Creative Writing at CSULB, and Gerry Locklin was one of my instructors.)”

Neeli and I are finally beginning to assemble the final draft of this anthology and in doing so, some good news about one of our contributors has arrived. Maw Shein Win is one of three winners of the Arkadii Dragomoshenko Prize for the Summer Literary Seminars program. In addition to many other publications, you can find very recent examples of her writing on-line at the Zocalo Public Square:

*new poems on cinematic distance:

*the wheelchair:


Her latest poetry chapbook, Ruins of a glittering palace can be accessed on-line, too:


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