by Ashia Ajani
At the introduction of a Jook Songs meeting in Swing Space, everyone checks in by passing around an object – sometimes a watermelon – saying their name, their pronouns, and an honest recollection of how they’ve been doing. One member confides, “it feels really good to be in this space.”
Jook Songs is Yale’s collective of Asian poets, presenting powerful, personal narratives that highlight the multiplicity of the Asian experience. What does it mean to be Asian and an international student? Or mixed race? What does it mean to be Asian and not speak your parents’ tongue?
After introductions, the group jumps into business. Lately the group is very freshman oriented. They plan tours and showcases, and even prompt the writing that gets done during meetings. Sometimes there’s a prompt, sometimes there’s a workshop; members have the chance to workshop their response to the prompt or share work with the group.
Members of Jook Songs are staunch supporters of student art on campus – especially art by other people of color. Many attend plays and spoken word performances by Yalies of color, and express interest with collaborating with other poetry groups on campus. Some members of Jook Songs are part of other groups on campus, but many started off with Jook Songs, and claim this group as their grounding community.
Jook Songs will be performing at the Asian American Writers Workshop in New York City on March 25th at 6:30 pm. There will also be a Yale show in the Calhoun Cabaret at 7:30 pm on April 1st and 2nd.