Photo: Margarita Corporan

Photo: Margarita Corporan

Shelley Wong is the author of RARE BIRDS (Diode Editions) and a 2019-2020 Headlands Center for the Arts affiliate artist. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, and The New Republic. Her full-length debut collection As She Appears is forthcoming from YesYes Books and won the 2019 Pamet River Prize.

She is a Kundiman fellow and the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center, Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, I-Park Foundation, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, SPACE, and RADAR/San Francisco Public Library’s James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center. She holds an MFA from the Ohio State University and a BA from UC Berkeley. She lives in San Francisco.


In RARE BIRDS, Shelley Wong weaves the shimmering threads of iconic women, nature, the arts, and queer love to create erotically lush poems articulated with terrifying accuracy. The result is this hypnotic and unapologetically beautiful tapestry:

I can’t say why
the world is so broken. Exalt
all women. I’m the tree coming back
through the page.

RARE BIRDS is the poetry of alchemy at its most mysterious and inviting.
— Kathy Fagan, author of Sycamore
In Shelley Wong’s brilliant debut chapbook, girls look like trees and women make their own forests when the dangers of love rise. RARE BIRDS is a book of burning and beauty; the voices within these pages are multiple and multiply: they speak from the shadow of Frida Kahlo, the broken and exalted ‘I,’ the ‘we’ once named suspect— a tribe now rising. Mangoes, jets, heels, and salt—those objects of the heart—usher in a world both common and strange, a world where ‘the men carve me, but my bones / cut back.’ Prepared to be astonished, seduced, and transformed by the poems woven and sung here: ‘I peacock in the in-between,’ proclaims the speaker. ‘I multiply like a queen.’
— Brynn Saito, author of Power Made Us Swoon
rarebirds.jpg