The Shadow List

Buckrider Books, April 2021

From acclaimed novelist Jen Sookfong Lee comes The Shadow List, a debut collection of fierce, honest, and deeply visceral poems about the secrets we all keep, the brittle masks we build, and the undeniability of our real selves. Using the intimate to illuminate the political, as well as language to give breath to the emotional, The Shadow List follows the voice of one woman as she pulls at the knot of accumulated expectations and how they have been shaped by her relationships, the patriarchy, and the crushing weight of respectability. Nothing and no one is spared. From our ancestors to lovers to children, Jen Sookfong Lee writes into the gendered and racialized schemata we have all unwittingly followed, and pulls them apart with the force of desires, once hidden but now emerging, mad for air.

“Jen Sookfong Lee writes poems about hearts breaking and lives mending. These are the poetics of living in relation, in relationship and as kin. The Shadow List is poetry to “wish the old hurts away” and conjure the present for us who live and love between rays of light.” Otoniya J. Okot Bitek

“Jen Sookfong Lee’s debut poetry collection is vivid and sophisticated, a whirlwind of tender, anxious lines, and a balm for any broken-hearted reader. Whether her subject is moth murder, Harry Styles, parenthood, or the man who “never yelled/as if that makes a difference,” The Shadow List is an addictive read from start to finish.” Zoe Whittall

“The Shadow List reveals a precise, and markedly painful, narrative tension that is frequently attributed to fiction. Jen Sookfong Lee demonstrates all the attentiveness to language and image that poetry lovers look for, and, looking at The Shadow List as a whole, there’s a cumulative narrative voice-driven anticipation and uncertainty that propels the collection. Lee reminds us that meaningful, meticulously-crafted examinations of discomfort offer rewards in any genre.” Amber Dawn

The Shadow List confronts the complex archives of the body, reminding us of our own impermanence. In lyrical poetry of exquisite and generous vulnerability, Jen Sookfong Lee defiantly bares the body in its many forms: animalistic, desiring, shunned, survived, urban, maternal, ageing, and—unforgettably—miraculous. Lee writes with searing intimacy and gripping urgency, striving always to capture the ever-fleeting now.” Gillian Sze