"Only here would she write as if she has “A People” to speak for,” writes poet JinJin Xu. From the imagined voices of children raised with chimpanzees in laboratories, Kafka’s Red Peter, the Filipino actor inside KingKong’s monstrous suit, Xu interrogates her experience of outsideness in Writing Workshops—probing the boundaries of writing against a racialized gaze, and how speech can become an act of testimony.
An original and captivating exploration of the vicissitudes of self-narration. Xu’s distinctive alchemy is to lay bare, by braiding forms as disparate as the dictionary entry, the quotation, and the experiment, the ways in which the imperative to disclose one's own nature can double as an act of trespass. A wry investigation into the liminal places where genres overlap and repel, This is My Testimony touches the intimate estrangement inherent to language itself. Here is a blistering report to an academy from a thrilling new voice in literature.
— Lindsay Stern
The Study of Animal Language
THERE IS STILL SINGING IN THE AFTERLIFE
Encountering JinJin’s Xu’s poems is like finding a 知音（zhiyin）in a forested park.
In October 2020, when isolation and grief had overshadowed the year, Xu’s collection arrived as a cathartic and resonant offering of poems; it was a fixture on my nightstand for months.
Through the pains of separation and the tumult of transcendence, the speaker keeps her mother alive in her living voice, forming a bridge between the two worlds, one built on an everlasting love.
There are eleven poems in There Is Still Singing in the Afterlife that are also myths and prayers: poems that slip, twist, and delight; poems that stretch our canvas and spread us “thin-thin;” poems that cleave our cells and poems we cleave to, despite the many preoccupations in our daily lives.
We have many personal, societal, and governmental ghosts, and Xu’s deft words slide over playful rhythms and forms to give us a doorway to dance through into the afterlife of those griefs.
"What Xu accomplishes here is an acceptance of both life and death, creating space in which the dead keep on living and the living hold death in our minds and on our tongues. "
"'There Is Still Singing in the Afterlife' is a collection that sears with both memory and mouthed prayers, where death is not a singular act and language teems with life."
Cha (An Asian Literary Journal):
"Xu is a writer possessed with rare sensitivity, and the poem is a glimpse of her inner and outer world where she balances personal memoir and history, where poems dangle between the living and the non-living, between remembrance and imagination. She has created a sensory and transcendent reading experience. It fills the mind with a sense of poignancy and quiet tenderness."
"Xu allows the reader to come up close and intimate, integrating matters of life, of the body, and matters transcending what is around us."
“Reader, you are lucky to have the award-winning chapbook of JinJin Xu before you. These superb poems resonate with personal and cultural intimacy. JinJin Xu writes with the insight and skill of a veteran poet, a doyen, a griot. Her lines open and breathe on the page as they do in the mind and heart. There Is Still Singing in the Afterlife is inventive, linguistic, ambitious, tender, wise, brave. This fabulous chapbook may be a collector’s item someday.”
— Terrance Hayes
LUMIERE REVIEW with Jessica Kim
LIGEIA with Ashley Wagner
THE RUMPUS with Sasha Burshteyn
WASHINGTON SQUARE REVIEW with Amanda Larson
Zoom Conversation with Kirun Kapur
VIZARDS Podcast with Lindy Labriola
SINGAPORE UNBOUND: Art Is + with Janelle Tan
Winner of the Inaugural Own Voices Chapbook Prize selected
by Aria Aber
Launch Party recording
with Aria Aber, Yanyi, Anne Carson & Robert Currie