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How Do I Look?

Sennah Yee
POETRY

84 pages
Perfect-bound
Cover art: Christine Shan Shan Hou
ISBN 9781988355085
Fall 2017

It is beautiful because it has nothing to do with you.

Through a series of short vignettes, Sennah Yee’s debut full-length book How Do I Look? paints a colourful portrait of a woman both raised and repelled by the media. With pithy, razor-sharp prose, Sennah dissects and reassembles pop culture through personal anecdotes, crafting a love-hate letter to the media and the microaggressions that have shaped how she sees herself and the world. How Do I Look? is a raw and vulnerable reflection on identities real and imagined.

Praise

“In Yee’s poetry, whole worlds, multiple worlds, can live in just a few sentences, and countless people and histories can exist within one person’s body. It almost makes reading full novels feel silly when you can live a whole life in just one of Yee’s paragraphs.”
Mitskipop star

“Sennah Yee’s How Do I Look? is a selfie through a webcam in the compact mirror tossed over the shoulder of a nightswimmer into a suburban chlorine pool. These poems are the hit radio lyrics that roll around in the mind before falling asleep, the silently crafted love poems for an unrequited crush written on a blog saved in drafts, the emails sent to one’s future self opened at a karaoke bar years later in another country. How Do I Look? made me look back and get home safe. I look in the rear view mirror to find flowers growing out of me.”
Stacey Tran, author of Soap for the Dogs

“Sennah Yee has written a book full of wit and fire. This is a work to read and reread. The individual pieces build on each other to reveal the fractured self beneath and the ways the Western world fractures people who ‘look like Mulan.’ A fierce new literary voice. Don’t miss this one.”
Matthew Salesses, author of The Hundred-Year Flood

“At first glance, it might not seem as if How Do I Look? is about survival. But in each of these brief vignettes, Sennah Yee is tested over & over again by white supremacy, racism, fetishization, heteronormativity & all the other worst parts of Western culture that constantly deluge the screens & scenes of our upbringing. And yet, Sennah Yee survives every microaggression. Sennah Yee has teflon in her blood & How Do I Look? is sparkling sunset over Liberty City & absolute proof that she is bulletproof.”
Orchid Cugini, author of I’m Just Happy To Be Here

Excerpts

Poetry in Voice | Internet Safety

Montreal Review of Books | Bond “Girls”

Cosmonauts Avenue | Mulan (1988); Intimates; Motherlode

Peach Mag | The Fast and the Furious (2001); Rear Window (1954); Flower Crown Snapchat Filter

Poor Claudia | 10 Poems

The Puritan | The Beach; The Desert; The Top of the Mountain; Dial-Up Internet Sounds

Reviews

Acta Victoriana | Sennah Yee’s How Do I Look, and The Pleasure of Anecdotal Storytelling

Broken Pencil | “To read Yee’s poetry feels intimate. In small vignettes written in prose poetry, it captures what it means to live in a body that is distorted by the tensions of visibility and invisibility.”

Winter Tangerine | “A quietly radical book, relentless in its unveiling of how pain is wrapped up in representation and visibility, and in its search for healing and freedom.”

Montreal Review of Books | “A poetry that can best be described as Seidel meets Bashō, meets an Instapoet.”

Daily Public | “H​​ow​ ​Do​ ​I Look?​​ ​is​ ​ultimately​ ​a​ ​book​ ​about​ ​a​ ​woman​ ​of​ ​color​ ​growing​ ​up​ ​in​ ​a​ ​world​ ​of​ ​avatars​ ​and Snapchat​ ​filters,​ ​and​ ​it​ ​challenges​ ​everything​ ​from​ ​internalized​ ​racism​ ​and​ ​heteronormativity​ ​to fetishization​ ​and​ ​men​ ​in​ ​film​ ​school.”

Interviews

Shondaland | “I really think of my book as a time capsule or ‘letter from the future,’ or now, to my past self. Dialogues between my different selves and different times. Even some things I read in the book, I already don’t feel like that anymore. But I enjoy those moments, looking at myself looking at myself. It feels a little cyborgian, and stepping outside of myself is attractive to me.”

Savoir | “You know those memes that are like “how I look in my selfies vs. how I look when someone takes a photo of me?” I keep thinking about that, and how my mirror image also doesn’t look anything like photos of me, and then this snowballs to how I don’t know how OTHERS see me and how I have no control over that, and then how I don’t even know how I see others, if they themselves don’t know how to see themselves…!”

ÄLPHÄ | Interview

Hobart | “I try to return the gaze, look right back at those looking at me. It jostles people, because they’re uneasy with their object becoming a subject.”

rob mcclennan | “As for the kinds of questions that I am trying to answer with my work: Who/what has control over how I look at myself/the world? In what ways can I return this gaze and reclaim this control?”

Lists

NUVO | Contemporary Writers Redefining Poetry in Canada

El Diario | “A naked collection of poems that shamelessly enters an identity drawn through popular culture, love and everyday racism.” (Translated from Spanish)

She Does the City | Poetry You Can Fall In Love With | “How Do I Look? is an incredible collection of poems, prose, and short nonfiction by Sennah Yee, published by indie publishing darling Metatron Press. It’s a powerful love/hate letter to the media that shaped Yee, and that shaped many of us young millennials. It’s a commentary on race, and sex, and sexism, and growing up. It’s smart, searing, and sometimes hilarious. Yee’s poems are the literary versions of ‘ear worms’ – like catchy chorus lines you can’t get out of your head. Her poems are sharp, witty, vulnerable, and just so damn good. I’ve read and re-read Sennah Yee’s poems multiple times, and I am utterly obsessed. This bite-sized book of poetry packs quite a punch, and you’ll find yourself thinking about its poems long after you finish them.”

CBC Books | Your ultimate Canadian poetry list

Laomagination | 2017 Asian American Poetry Books and Chapbooks

Punch-In-The-Face Poetry | Fall 2017 Books by Poets of Color

 

Translations

¿Cómo me ves?Paloma Ediciones (Spain) – 2022 Spanish translation of How Do I Look?

Sennah Yee

Sennah Yee is from Toronto, where she writes poetry, prose, and film criticism.

She is the author of the poetry collection How Do I Look? (Metatron Press), and the children’s books My Day With Gong Gong (Annick Press, Blue Spruce Award Nominee) and Lin’s Lucky Red Envelope (Holt Renfrew commission).

She is the co-creator and managing editor of the pop culture journal In The Mood Magazine.

She is the producer of the feature films Withdrawn (2017) and Retrograde (2022), which both premiered at Slamdance Film Festival.