Hear the U.S.’s Multicultural Voices in “Unsettling America”
The poetry anthology Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry, which was edited by Jennifer Gillan and Maria Mazziotti Gillan, takes a look at the multicultural voices found in American poetry.
This anthology features the works of poets such as Gary Soto, Pat Mora, Nellie Wong, David Hernandez, and many more. Each selected poem was chosen because the writing is not only beautiful but also powerful and evocative. The works encompass all languages, ethnicities, and religions to give a strong voice to the lives and experiences of ethnic Americans, many of whom are lost in the shadow of white privilege in today’s society.
Many of the poems revolve around the themes of assimilation, self-perception, and communication—both with their ethnic communities and the world at large. Each poem is honest and gives new insight into the lives and experiences of the poets and their families; it also shows readers that despite ethnic and cultural differences, we all have the same wants and fears in the end. This anthology’s strong voice allows many of the negative stereotypes and myths that pervade most American culture to fall by the wayside since the book highlights our similarities, not what makes us different.
For example, Nellie Wong’s Where Is My Country looks at how many of her fellow Americans get her ethnicity wrong and often mistake her for being of Spanish or Filipino descent when in reality her family hails from China. She also discusses how she’s been made fun of for speaking with an accent and wonders where “her country” truly lies. Meanwhile, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s The Old Italians Are Dying is about Italian immigrants and their descendants who moved here and were taunted for being “foreign” and have now lost this culture ever since they were forced to assimilate.
If you’re looking for a poetry anthology that allows marginalized voices to finally get their time in the sun, then you’ll definitely enjoy reading Unsettling America.
Top image by Ben K. Adams.