Magnolia, Nina Mingya Powles’ exquisite debut poetry collection, pushes the borders of languages and poetic forms to examine memories, myths, and the experiences of a mixed-race girlhood. From Aotearoa to London, from Shanghai to New York City, these poems journey across shifting, luminescent cities in search of connection: through pop culture, through food, through vivid colors. Scenes from Mulan, Blade Runner, and In the Mood for Love braid together with silken tofu and freshly steamed baozi. At the heart of the collection is “Field notes on a downpour,” a lyrical sequence that questions the limits of translation and our ability to understand one another. Alone, the speaker recognizes that “certain languages contain more kinds of rain than others, and I have eaten them all.”
Full of hunger and longing for a home that can embrace a person’s complexities, Magnolia draws on every sense to arrive at profound, yet intimate insights, and introduces readers to a brilliant new voice in poetry.