Rapture – Carol Ann Duffy

One of the first volumes of lesbian poetry I had ever encountered that still teaches me how to write about longing and desire.

Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies for Rog – Paul Monette

Monette’s form of elegy captures all the intensity of loss and anger of the AIDS era — I learned that these negative affects could take a particular poetic form, one that both remembers and resists.

The Beauty – Jane Hirshfield

This collection really modeled poetry as speculation, as inquiry, as essay — Hirshfield knows how to ask the mundane difficult and lingering questions that leave those everyday things changed.

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities – Chen Chen

One of my first reviews of poetry was of Chen’s book, which gave me a new vocabulary for not only talking about the intersections of Chinese and queer experience but also about joy, something I’m still learning how to write about compellingly.

Adrienne Rich

I couldn’t begin to choose just one collection, but Rich’s work continues to be a huge influence on my own. Her work exploded what I knew about intimacy and its relational stakes, be it erotic, political, or spiritual.

Travis Chi Wing Lau received his Ph.D. in English at the University of Pennsylvania and is a postdoctoral teaching fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. Alongside his academic writing and public scholarship, his poetry has appeared in Glass Poetry, The New Engagement, Nat. Brut, Matador Review. His chapbook, The Bone Setter, was recently published with Damaged Goods Press. [travisclau.com/@travisclau]

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