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Return of the Chinese Femme

Return of the Chinese Femme

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By Dorothy Chan

An unabashed exploration of queerness, excess, identity, and tenderness from award-winning poet Dorothy Chan.

Publication Date: April 30, 2024

Paperback ISBN: 9781646053100
eBook ISBN: 9781646053254


The speaker in Dorothy Chan’s fifth collection, Return of the Chinese Femme, walks through life fearlessly, “forehead forever exposed,” the East Asian symbol of female aggression. She’s the troublemaker protagonist—the “So Chinese Girl”—the queer in a family of straights— the rambunctious ringleader of the girl band, always ready with the perfect comeback, wearing a blue fur coat, drinking a whiskey neat. They indulge on the themes of food, sex, fantasy, fetish, popular culture, and intimacy.

Chan organizes the collection in the form of a tasting menu, offering the reader a taste of each running theme. Triple sonnets, recipe poems, and other inventive plays on diction and form pepper the collection. Amidst the bravado, Return of the Chinese Femme represents all aspects of her identity—Asian heritage, queerness, kid of immigrants’ story—in the most real ways possible, conquering the world through joy and resilience.

Biographical Information

Dorothy Chan (she/they) is the author of multiple poetry collections, including BABE (Diode Editions, 2021), Revenge of the Asian Woman (Diode Editions, 2019), Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018), and the chapbook Chinatown Sonnets (New Delta Review, 2017). They were a 2023 finalist for the Roethke Poetry Award for Revenge of the Asian Woman, 2022 finalist for the Sheila Margaret Motton Book Prize from the New England Poetry Club for BABE, a 2020 and 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a 2020 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry for Revenge of the Asian Woman, and a 2019 recipient of the Philip Freund Prize in Creative Writing from Cornell University. Their work has appeared in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets, and elsewhere.

Chan is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Book Reviews Co-Editor of Pleiades, and Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of Honey Literary Inc., a 501(c)(3) BIPOC literary arts organization, run by women, femme, and queer editors of color. Chan was the 2021 Resident Artist for Toward One Wisconsin. They were a 2022 recipient of the University of Wisconsin System’s Dr. P.B. Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ People. Visit their website at dorothypoetry.com


"Our favorite Triple Sonnet Heroine does indeed reawaken our desires for 'dishing' and 'decadence' in Return of the Chinese Femme. In their latest dazzling collection, Dorothy K. Chan guides us through sumptuous frolic and feasting . . . Never without humor, Chan takes on political and social inhibitions, turns them inside out and upside down, with a playfulness unique to the very mantra: 'and oh, I crave and I crave and crave and crave.' Return of the Chinese Femme won’t leave you wanting, and yet wanting more from Chan, the next poem, the new collection which continues 'K is for kink. K is for knot. K is for kissing, / K is for king. Crown me.' —Rosebud Ben-Oni, author of If This Is the Age We End Discovery

"Chan’s elegantly gargantuan appetite relishes everything from coconut and sago soup to Cantonese chicken wings; everything from 'deviled eggs to mac and cheese, and Heart Attack Burgers on secret menus.' Chan craves not only these litanies of dishes, but also sexual encounters with women and men, including those that 'defy gender'—and always saves room to savor pop culture icons like Dennis Rodman and Rob Lowe (as Hello Kitty). From her 'amuse-bouche' triple sonnets to her embedded recipes, Chan’s work is delectably fiery. She moves between Asian and American cultures, as well as varied poetic forms, with finesse—and what (almost) rhymes with finesse? Fearless. That, for me, is the word to describe this book." —Christina Pugh, author of Stardust Media

"A juicy, fluffy, bouncy, and loud refusal of the mandate to enshrine the stereotype of the melancholic Asian prostate in the service of dominant understandings of our traumas. These poems are defiant in their exploration of the other side of hunger: the voracity and veracity of a femme’s many appetites. Chan’s verse is insatiably kinesthetic, persuasive in its strut, equally capable of evoking the exuberance of kinship and the scintillation of erotic connection. Because is it even a revolution if it does not romp? Please. Baby." —Divya Victor, author of CURB and KITH