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I Wore My Blackest Hair

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  151 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Celebrating Chinese American girlhood in all its confusion, love, and loss.

In I Wore My Blackest Hair, Fulbright grant and Edna Meudt Memorial Award recipient Carlina Duan delivers an electric debut collection of poetry. With defiance and wild joy, Duan’s poems wrestle with and celebrate ancestry and history, racial consciousness, and the growing pains of girlhood. They exp
Kindle Edition, 92 pages
Published November 14th 2017 by Little A
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
I received this via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own.

2.5 stars

Bit of a mixed bag really, some poems I did like, some had me scratching my head a bit, and others I had to struggle to finish.

Been trying to read more poetry here and there, to expand my reading horizons. This one won't be staying on the list.

Others may like it more but this was a dud for me sadly.
Kristy K
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, poetry, 2017, netgalley
3.5 Stars

Lovely collection of poetry that focuses on family, race, feminism, and individuality.

A few of my favorite lines:

"My mother is not from your country,
and I am not ashamed."
"I am lonely, in my lonely chest."
"To replace the languages our mom spoke, we
smoked up our Chinese with blond dolls,
our new knees. American girls."
"I was her American
daughter, my tongue
my hardest muscle
forced to swallow
a muddy alphabet."
Manon the Malicious
I was provided an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t have much to say.
Good, pretty short collection of poetry.
I really liked the author’s style and her subjects too. She talks about family, about love, about racism, xenophobia and so much more.
The reason it doesn’t get 5 stars is because I had lots of trouble really getting into it.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only ever rate poetry in terms of my personal enjoyment. I don't read a lot of it, and I wouldn't be able to give recommendations if someone came to me asking for 'good' collections. Whilst I am trying to get more into it, I certainly don't have a burning passion for picking all that much of it up. That being said, I would give this one a 3.5/4 stars for both the beauty in the writing and for the fact that I actually understood a fair amount of the poems. Winner.

I Wore My Blackest Hair is/>I
Breslin White
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The beginning poems are about Carlina Duan’s father, who does not reappear in the collection afterwards.

It gives a sense of brooding eerieness eventually (she wore her blackest hair), because her father is gone but her boyfriends are present, who, like the sea, exist but don’t breathe. Her own gills, she a breathing and living thing, are at risk if the tide doesn’t come.

New stanzas in these poems are often standalone, yet fade into one another as well. It creates for a unique readin
RobinLeigh Morgan
I read this book via an Amazon-US KINDLE Unlimited download.

A great deal of you reading this might be the product of immigrant parents [of which me and my sibling happen to be] had to have wrestled between their cultural upbringing and that of being an American; being older I had a greater struggle.

The fact of the matter is that many of us, or our ancestors, have had to wrestle with the same things as Ms. Duan did in attempting to blend in with the other cultural consciousnesses to
Dora Okeyo
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This is a brutally honest collection of poems that challenge the status-quo, push the boundaries of and question; race, color, genetics and acceptance.
For in I am the daughter of black tide/ an immigrant. Wwere my father lives, I protect. you get the feeling that she's not backing down, you can say and do all you want, but she made it here and she ain't going nowhere. I loved that.
I'll read this again and again, thanks to NetGalley.
Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob)
I received a free ebook copy of this book from Amazon publishing - that does not influence my review.

You should know that I do not read much poetry. My goal is to read at least one poetry compilation per year, but, it's November and my goal was still unmet. (Though "The Sun and Her Flowers" hovers on my computer desk waiting a turn.)

Some portions of this book were too smart for me. There were parts I didn't grasp either due to cultural differences or simply my own dense stupidity..
I honestly don't really understand a lot of poetry and I was hoping this book would be different, because I really do like poetry and want to "get it" better, if that makes sense.

There was pain and beauty in some of the poems, but could not get the meaning behind most of them. Maybe I'm not meant to? Poetry is very personal to the writer. If I related more to Carlina's life, would I understand them better? The writing style was different from how I see a lot of poems, very interestin
Deepika Ramesh
I loved Duan's voice more in her pieces about her mother and her sister. There was a force, which was more than anger, and it didn't demand sympathy nor did it wallow in self-pity. I enjoyed those parts in this spoken-word poetry collection. The other pieces were lukewarm.
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(I received a free advance copy from Net Gallery in exchange for an honest review.)

A gorgeous book of deeply personal poems that leave you feeling as though you’ve walked beside the author through various paths of her life
Interesting collection of poems loosely relating to Chinese culture.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This engrossing collection of poetry impresses with its insightful exploration of identity as a Chinese American woman, establishing Carlina Duan as a writing force to be reckoned with!
Steph Mecham
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Mesmerizing style and interesting content! This is the poetry that needs to be famous instead of the instagram-popularized rupi kaur et al
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: galleys
(I received an e-ARC via NetGalley; all thoughts are my own)

Reading this book was a struggle let alone finishing it. But I thought there were some poems that I like (very very few) so I thought might as well finish it. Actually scratch that, there were some stanzas/lines that I like and majority was a no-no but still tried to finish it. I just couldn't get the grasp on what the poems are about, it left me lost and confused.
And I don't like the writing style either.
Kristen Lemaster
I wanted to love this collection, since she’s a Vandy student!! The imagery is just a little too repetitive, to the point of being predictable/overplayed, especially related to descriptions of “knees” - who knew?
Outstanding. All stars
Anthony Chan
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i dug it.
Kathleen Gray
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not just for poetry fans, this is a lovely meditation on what it means to be an American woman of Chinese heritage. I dipped in and out of this, savoring the language and the images. We don't see many poetry collections these days- I wish there were more, especially those that hang together with such lovely writing. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017, kindle
Brilliant debut collection. I responded more to some poems than others, but I really liked the collection as a whole. A young woman's searching for, and celebration of, her identity — as Chinese and American and woman. Much to love here. And many of these poems sent me spiraling off, sparking poems of my own.

Good interview with Carlina Duan on The Kindle Chronicles, epusode 484.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this, as an Asian-American. I just couldn't. It reminds me of William Faulkner's stream of consciousness. I can see Duan is trying to express her conflict with language, race, loneliness, family, and coming-of-age, but much of the meaning gets muddled in the way its written. She says a lot about tongues, saliva, pieces of fruit, throats, sticky, sticky, sticky with erroneous punctuation. Its meant to be artistic, but I won't pretend to "get" it.
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: This book of poetry focuses around life as a Chinese-American. Carlina’s poetry collection shows that her divided race influences every aspect of her life, from her romantic relationships to her relationship with her family. She shows the love, anger, frustration and feeling of isolation which touches all aspects of her life.

My thoughts: Despite teaching poetry most days of the week I rarely read it for fun as I find it difficult, or I think I do. Poetry I normally associate
T.J. Burns
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
  I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

For pretty much all of my life I've been obsessed with reading. When i was younger i would read anything i could get my hands on, however there is a genre that always eluded me....Poetry, I dreaded every poetry unit throughout high school. However recently i decided to give it another try and my mind is slowly but surely changing and this is one of the books contributing to that......

you can find the/>you
Angela Gibson
Thank you to netgalley and to publisher Little A for giving me a copy of this poetry collection in exchange for an honest review.

I requested this ARC through netgalley because I'm interested in experiencing more in my reading life than my traditional American life has provided me. Carlina Duan's poems were a peek into what it means to be American with Chinese heritage and expectations and what it takes to establish independence from parents yet still maintain love.

Poems of Loneliness, Loss, and Defiance

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley.)

I was her American
daughter, my tongue
my hardest muscle
forced to swallow
a muddy alphabet.
("FRACTIONS, 1974")

in Japan,
I meet a white-haired woman who
tells me her name means moon.
But I am crescent now, she says.
Soon I will disappear.

a boy plumps his lip on your throat
and asks you to say something dirty
in CHINESE, you flip the sheets
and bite down, tasting trouble/>(Full
Christina Reid
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-arcs
my mother
is not from your
country, and I am
her daughter.
don't ask me
what it's like
being small
and Chinese.

I requested this from Netgalley on a whim as I am a big supporter of diversity in books - not in a tick-box sense where an author has included all the 'requisite' minorities, but in the sense of genuine, own-voice poetry and prose. I probably don't read as much poetry as I should as I often stick to old favourites rather than discovering new poets, but I always surprise
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
I got this on a Goodreads Giveaway but that doesn't affect my honest review.

So to preface - I'm not a big poetry fan and if I do like it, it's very classic Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson style poetry. This is not that.

I didn't realize this was poetry until I started it and that probably would have affected my decision to enter the giveaway to begin with. I was hoping for a novel or essays on the author's experience being Chinese in America. I do have to say, the one's that address
Moray Teale
An interesting collection of poetry focusing on the second-generation immigrant experience and reconciling American and Chinese culture. Duan rakes up powerful emotions of isolation and belonging, both with regards to her race and her sex and brings to light the prejudice caused by both. There are some sucker-punch verses that leap right off the page:

My mother
Does not own a
Laundromat or
A take-out restaurant;
She waters orchids
And doesn’t look
Your president
Tamar Alexanian
Pledge Allegiance (p. 2)

"my mother is not
from your country
filled with chocolates
and rain.

don't ask me
where my solitude
comes from -
in this country I know
we floss our teeth.

in this country I know
how to swim, how to part
my lips. what's black,
what's bent. what's
not mine to touch.

salt sparkles
on sidewalks of
clean snow. in
this country
my lungs
are strong. my elbows,
sharp: i get th
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CARLINA DUAN is a writer from Michigan. She is the author of the poetry collection I WORE MY BLACKEST HAIR (Little A, 2017), and the chapbook Here I Go, Torching (National Federation Poetry Societies, 2015).
“believe, then, / in the mosquito: how it begins to take / your blood - heat and ghost and age and itch / as you press the net to your temples / and scratch in wild belief while / outside, leaves darken, insects / bite, and you smash a body / with the back / of your palm.” 0 likes
“in the kitchen, my mother and her sister / talk in tiny whispers. a cultural revolution. / spirals of teeth. mouths centered into Os / like slow red pearls.” 0 likes
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