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Poetry Lab's 10 AAPI Poets to Read This Year


I’d Rather Be Lightning is a love song to the earth, celebrating what we stand to lose. These poems are “throwing a tantrum” about the climate crisis, written by a “child / of imperialism whining about freedom / from the bondage of stuff.” What do you get when you combine capitalism, environmentalism, ecology, globalization, fascism, economic crisis, and global pandemic? Nancy Lynée Woo transmutes anxiety into dynamic and playful poems, writing into the absurdity of the global crises facing humanity with a soft wit, enduring hope, and deep love for the more-than-human world. Eco-feminism moving at lightspeed, I’d Rather Be Lightning captures a Millennial’s despair over environmental destruction with bolts of humor, compassion, and formal experimentation.




"Nancy Lynee Woo's dreadfully charming ecopocalypse I'D RATHER BE LIGHTINING is such a beautiful, jarring, funny, and wild collection of poems, capturing the hopes and fears of a young Angeleno at the cusp of the end of the world.” Pete Hsu


"Nancy Woo's I'd Rather Be Lightning is a necessary invocation. It's a handbook, spellbook, and remembered lucid dream to guide us in and through these times. Clear-eyed about the climate crisis while brimming with love for humans and more-than-humans, this debut collection is a powerful force of language and hope." Tamiko Beyer


"I read the collection with care, afraid I’d miss a single gem about our planetary crisis, along with Woo’s wise and kind eye towards us flawed humans (“Everyone you disagree with//is right in some way”), and the joie de vivre and optimism she offers us, alongside the great existential dread so beautifully depicted, in the playfulness of her poems." Elizabeth J. Coleman


"Nancy Lynée Woo’s I’d Rather Be Lightning is a riotous and candid collection of ecopoems that traverse landscapes and species to tell the story of our changing world. She reports 'Earth’s problems are not getting/ any smaller.' While hope for humanity is ever-present in her work, Woo is in search of the 'eye of life' and isn't afraid to examine the irreparable damage to the Earth and its non-human inhabitants. Using bold language and body-level perceptions, Woo frankly reminds us, 'Just because you want to survive doesn’t mean you will.' Jessica Gigot



West Trade Review

Birch Bark


NANCY WOO is a poet, community organizer, and 2022 Artists at Work fellow. She has received fellowships from PEN America, the Arts Council for Long Beach, and Idyllwild Writers Week. Her work has been published in The Shore, Tupelo Quarterly, Stirring, Radar Poetry, and other journals and anthologies. Nancy has an MFA in creative writing, poetry, from Antioch University and a BA in sociology from UC Santa Cruz. Her work is largely inspired by the magic and power of the natural world.

I'd Rather Be Lightning

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