Published on Academy of American Poets (

Immigrant Can’t Write Poetry

“Oh no, not with your syntax,” said H.V. to her daughter-in-law, a Chinese writing poetry in English

She walk to table
She walks to a table

She walk to table now
She is walking to a table now

What difference it make
What difference does it make

In Nature, no completeness
No sentence really complete thought

Language, our birthright & curse
Pay no mind to immigrant syntax

Poetry, born as beast
Move best when free, undressed


Previously published in American Journal of Poetry. Copyright © 2018 by Wang Ping. Used with the permission of the author.


Wang Ping

Wang Ping is a poet and fiction writer whose work often speaks to the interweaving of two cultures—Chinese and American—and what occurs at the sometimes stark and violent intersection of two different sets of languages, traditions, and histories.

Date Published: 2018-01-16

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