Watershed Literary Events

cynthia and jane postcard blue

Watershed Literary Events, a spoken-word series sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs in South Orange, will host its third virtual reading of the year on Sunday, March 13, 2022 at 2 pm.

Watershed Literary Events presents: A Virtual Reading with Cynthia Dewi Oka and Jane Wong. The event is free and open to the public and can be accessed through this Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85329267522

March is also Women’s History Month, and, for the first time in three years, Watershed will be featuring two outstanding women poets, Cynthia Dewi Oka and Jane Wong.

US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo describes Cynthia Dewi Oka’s work in her book Salvage (2017) as that of a modern “visionary, a word prophet.” Born in Bali, Indonesia, Oka immigrated to Vancouver at the age of 10. Her work is informed by the complexities of her heritage and immigrant experiences; her fifteen years organizing for gender, racial, economic and migrant justice; and her life as a young single mother. A visual artist, performer, fiction and essay writer, as well as poet, Oka’s most recent collection of poems is Fire Is Not a Country (2021). She is also the author of Nomad of Salt and Hard Water (2016).

A recipient of the Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize and the Leeway Transformation Award, Oka’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Poetry, The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series, The Rumpus, PANK, Guernica, and elsewhere. She has taught creative writing at Bryn Mawr College and New Mexico State University and is the 2021-2022 Poet in Residence at the Amy Clampitt House in Lenox, MA. Oka lives in Collingswood, NJ.

Poet and artist Jane Wong dedicates her latest poetry collection, How to Not Be Afraid of Everything (2021), to her grandparents and to those lost in the Great Leap Forward. Her own mother survived the Great Famine in China during the 1960s. Wong is a self-described restaurant baby, having grown up in a Chinese American restaurant at the Jersey Shore. In much of her work, she reclaims “ghosts” of her past that invoke hunger, gluttony, and food waste. An Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Western Washington University, Wong is also the author of the collection Overpour (2016). Her debut memoir, Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City, is forthcoming from Tin House in 2023.

Wong’s poems can be found in places such as Best American Nonrequired Reading 2019, Best American Poetry 2015, American Poetry Review, Poetry, AGNI, The Kenyon Review, and others. Her essays have appeared in McSweeney's, Black Warrior Review, Ecotone, The Common, and Shenandoah. A Kundiman fellow, she is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and numerous fellowships and residencies.

Watershed was founded in 2019 and hosts four readings a year, featuring both established and emerging writers with a connection to New Jersey. For updated information, check back with the South Orange Village website, or contact Peter Travers at ptravers@southorange.org

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