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A Place Called No Homeland

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  274 ratings  ·  45 reviews
This extraordinary poetry collection journeys to the place where forgotten ancestors live and monstrous women roam—and where the distinctions between body, land, and language are lost. In these fierce yet tender narrative poems, Thom draws from both memory and mythology to create new maps of gender, race, sexuality, and violence. Descended from the traditions of oral story ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 1st 2017 by Arsenal Pulp Press
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Average rating 4.47  · 
Rating details
 ·  274 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is a fantastic debut for this poet, focusing on identity and survival, navigating borders between gender expectations and gender identity, Chinese cultural background and Canadian "home," never feeling quite like they belong, but tackling life with a fullness and energy that comes across in every word.

There is a great video on YouTube of the poet talking about the poetry and concepts therein, but I haven't been able to find any performances of the poetry itself. I would LOVE to see it
This was a fucking phenomenal collection of poetry. I can't even believe it's her debut. Poems with strong roots in oral traditions and spoken word, you can really hear them in your mind and heart. Tough and tender meditations on family, race, being trans, femininity, trauma, relationships, community, sex, books, and love.

"All i want is to turn my lungs into a glass instrument and let them sing glory to my sisters"

"there is a poem
scratched onto the walls of my throa
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“there some stories that are never told/but known
nonetheless we bake them into bread/fill buns with secrets
like sweet lotus paste/ “what can’t be cured must be endured
“chinese families
don’t talk about our feelings”/“we wash them down
with pork”/ “do as you are told, child”/ “eat what’s in your bowl”
swallow it/bitter or sweet
some violence, we
keep inside our bodies/scar tissue/“what love?
the kind they show in gwai lo films?
chinese women don’t speak<
Leah Horlick
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you ever have a chance, do your soul a favour and make sure you can hear Kai Cheng Thom perform these pieces aloud. This work shakes up the very foundations CanLit is built on, and I am just thrilled that Kai Cheng was named the winner of the 2017 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for Emerging LGBT Writers - I know there's so much more of this incredible work to come.
Maggie Gordon
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, queer, canadiana
Damn. How do you describe a book of poetry that is so full of rage and hope that even though it discusses many things outside of your experiences, you are awash with empathy and a great need to cry/scream. Thom is a transwomen with a lot to say about bigotry and survival in beautiful, knife-like, poetic language. She shies away from nothing, whether it be painful insights and lessons about her own behaviour, or the horrible actions of society as a whole. This is a fantastic, powerful, angry book ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: prideathon
Amazing collection of poetry!
Barbara McEwen
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian, poetry, lgbtq
I have never read anything quite like this. This is some powerful poetry. So many concentrated emotions, it is like a poetry bomb.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books
I like to read poetry aloud. I don’t perform it but I speak it gently under my breath so I can hear the words and the flow as best I can (of course it would never compare to hearing the words from the poet’s mouth but it’s the best I have). Throughout my reading of this collection, my voice would get caught in my throat. A lump in my chest would keep me from continuing with my voice and I would read silently without breathing until I could find my voice again. This is an incredibly powerful coll ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
a place called No Homeland is a stunning and unflinchingly powerful poetry collection. Kai Cheng Thom, a Chinese Canadian trans woman, breaks down boundaries between the body, history, and nature with her poetry.

It’s hard to describe the writing of poems because it’s such an individualized experience of reading. Thom’s poetry made me feel longing, discomfort, loneliness, privilege, in awe — all in the best possible of ways that poetry can unapologetically bring about such a multitude
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is it everyone: my favorite poetry collection of all time. Well, at least so far. It's absolutely stunning. Extraordinary. Bone-chillingly vulnerable. She blends memory and mythology, invokes the fist of her father and the call of her ancestors. Sex and longing, meditation and trauma, identity and diaspora, sexuality and survival — all are topics that Thom navigates with both hope and rage. Do yourself a favor and RUN to this poetry collection.

Some favorites: “diaspora babies”,
Jan 23, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019, 2019-poetry
i was really impressed by thom's sense of form. she's not afraid of using spaces and indents to good effect, which is way harder than it looks. 'downside beastside' is a two column poem that can also be read as a one column poem across two pages. 'hunger p(h)antoum' has some villanelle-esque patterning going on - she's a very technically talented poet!

i have not read very many poetry collections, but this one felt especially therapeutic, i think. by that i mean many poems felt like t
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This woman is an advocate for transgender youth and this passion shows through in her poems. There is an intimacy to her poems that make you feel as though you were reading her diary. These poems are graphic and it is clear that this poet has been through many struggles in her life. I appreciate that I was able to get a sense of what it must be like to walk in her shoes. Beyond that there is a way that she is Kai Cheng Thom is able to play with words that were fun and creative as can only be see ...more
Liz Mc2
Feb 18, 2018 added it
Shelves: poetry
Poems that speak of:

Identities—queer, trans, femme, Chinese-Canadian
fluidity and fluids—blood, tears, cum too
Finding herself and her voice—this is a collection rooted in oral and spoken word traditions
Searching for love and shelter, belonging—wanting safety and taking risks
Sex, violence, and the bitter, traumatic, painful ways they intersect

Rating poetry seems even sillier to me—or I feel even less qualified to do it—than rating other books. So I d
Shorter Version

A Place Called No Homeland is the debut collection of poetry by Kai Cheng Thom. Her poems are very powerful and autobiographical in nature, filled with authentic and gut-wrenching experiential truths of love, violence, longing and pain. It is a true story of the painful experiences of a boy who knows from a young age that he is/wants to be a girl but must live like a boy. Growing older, the pain intensifies and Thom presents to the world as the female she knows she was born be.
Victoria Carney
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kai Cheng Thom is brilliant! She has a way with words - many of these poems left me speechless and grasping at the knot in my throat. Definitely recommend!
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nf-poetry, lgbtq
Ferocious and raw, like the commingled relief/release/guilt/pain/pleasure of slowly peeling back a scab and watching the blood pool.
Apr 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was absolutely phenomenal. It is both vulnerable and powerful. The poems suck you in and spit you out, dazed but already planning your second go. I am so pleased to have this and be able to re-read it. It deals with so many contemporary issue: such as trans-identity, culture, violence, and ethnicity. This makes it even more important to read, if not for enjoyment, but for it's necessity. It relishes in the space of discomfort, between the lull and the rise.

full review:
Disclaimer: I rec
I don't remember the last time I read a poetry collection from cover to cover. This poetry is such a gift.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Tbh most of these poems are just bad (in your mouth, they called it the boy without a penis).

I found when is a woman? offensive. Maybe thom should have paid more attention to that class and what sojourner truth was actually saying. I don't like how she uses racism as an easy way to dismiss - to dismiss the specificity of female body experience by saying this is done by white feminists, to dismiss gay rights by telling white gays to stuff marriage equality.. I'm not calling out thom specifically
Lexi Nylander
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
made, what the moon saw, autopsky, 3 love stories were my favorites.

"dear scientist, mortuary explorer, search me thoroughly / tenderly catalogue all my wayward parts"

"i am a (trans)woman out to taste the world. my body demands furious consumption."

"i am forced to wonder whatever happened to that child? whatever happened to my childhood's ferocious appetite? my childhood's killer heart?"
Jane Hamilton
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
“dear scientist, mortuary explorer, search me thoroughly
tenderly catalogue all my wayward parts.
find somewhere in me
the forgotten moon, the faded stars.”

Kai’s forthright talents seem made for poetry, and I was delighted to read the creative and scintillating A Place Called No Homeland. Jelly-tender, tough as knives, these poems ride the borderland into and through trauma, relationships, love and power and bring us out deepened on the other side.
Dana Neily
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 I love the way this book is written. The grammatical structure makes it easy to read aloud while keeping alive the complexity of the identities Thom is exploring. Both intense and humorous. Not a 5 star only because some of the poems felt alike and didn't always keep on the side of dark that I wanted to read. An important and gripping book.
Tallon Kennedy
Though there are some moments where the language feels too familiar, or a poem feels under-edited, this is a really powerful collection of poetry. Thom's unique voice suffuses the text with emotion, and I think she/they really hit upon a middle ground between immediate accessibility and innovation of the craft. 7.5/10
Vicki Crosson
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every single poem in this collection was outstanding; this is certainly the most impactful collection of poetry I've ever read.

I loved how the author switched between strict and malleable styles of poetry throughout the set; my personal favorite in form was "hunger p(h)antoum", but I'm a sucker for any poem that makes good use of repetition.
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an astounding book of poetry. Incredible language, just breathtaking. I could sit here for several hours trying to come up with words to describe the beauty and vitality and no-bullshit straight-up realness of this book. Or you could just go buy it, because I'll never do it justice, it is just that good, there is just so much bursting from these pages. I just want everyone to read it now.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing, powerful read filled with rage, resistance and raw emotion. The words are lyrical and they sing beautifully, tenderly of trauma, struggle, love, queer and trans identity, assault to name a few. A fantastic collection that I would love to hear performed. <3
Anneke Alnatour
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: female-author
This collection was raw, and there was so much THERE. So I do not know much about being trans, or growing up as a woc, but this book is so honest, and unfiltered. I loved it.

A lot of sexual references, but it never disturbed me, because so much of her experiences have to do with sex.
A Place Called No Homeland is one of the best poetry collections I have read this year. The content is vibrant and moving. The way she plays with form and uses it to her benefit is refreshing. This is definitely one to remember, and I will be recommending it for a long time to come.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it


what the moon saw
the river
queer tribe
the funny thing about violence
trauma is not sacred

Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was utterly fabulous. Real and raw and accessible. Not preachy, no soapbox, just life, real life, emotions, happenstance and circumstance. I loved it, unconditionally.
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Kai Cheng Thom is a writer, performance artist, social worker, fierce trans femme and notorious liar who loves lipstick and superhero cartoons. A prolific essayist and poet, her work appears online in publications including BuzzFeed, xoJane, Everyday Feminism, and Autostraddle; and in print in Asian American Literary Review, Plenitude, and Matrix Magazine, among others. Her first collection of poe ...more
“some bodies can't be touched/some poems
cannot be written/just felt”
“there are no words in your mouth
but there's a pen in your head
you want to tell the truth
but you told stories instead”
More quotes…