This article examines the transnational poetics embedded in Chinese American poet Wing Tek Lum's 2012 collection The Nanjing Massacre: Poems. Borrowing from Jahan Ramazani's concept of transnational poetics, I show how a transnational perspective reveals the cross-cultural content and formal experiments in Asian American poetry. I examine Lum's intercultural representations of two groups of people: Japanese perpetrators and comfort women. Lum's poetic construction of Japanese perpetrators explores ordinary Japanese soldiers' mentalities, adapts Japanese folklore, and engages with Japanese verse haiku. Lum's portrayals of comfort women reveal how the women have been reduced to objects and symbols of national humiliation, and I argue that his juxtaposition of the Nanjing Massacre with other historical traumas emphasizes universal, war-inflicted sexual trauma. Lum's representations of Japanese perpetrators and comfort women work together to undermine nationalist uses of Nanjing Massacre history memory and instead emphasize transnational war traumas and gender oppression. Situated at the intersection of Asian American poetry studies and studies of the Nanjing Massacre, this article hopes to push beyond narrowly US-bound models of criticism for Asian American poetry and highlights how Lum mobilizes an intercultural way of approaching the Nanjing Massacre.


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pp. 131-162
Launched on MUSE
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