Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
Leong's work often focuses on cultural exile, or "diaspora." His poems describe the bifurcated consciousness of the individual who exists between two worlds. In "Threads," for example, Leong imagines himself as an unformed, yet somehow indivisible, entity: "It is with me / And yet / There is nothing I can say ... That will make it work." Leong does not specifically say what this vestigial "it" is, or why "it" sticks to him so irritatingly. But he does go on to metaphorically describe this "it" as undigested but necessary food: "It is with me ... A fruit ripening on a tree ... a fat insect caught on threads." In this way, Leong's poetry both bemoans and celebrates the half-split consciousness of diasporic identity; it is uncomfortable to experience oneself as a dual entity, he seems to suggest, but it is also exciting and filled with potential.
Leong's work speaks in general about diaspora, but it also speaks specifically to the Chinese American and larger Asian experience. As he demonstrates to Bobbi Ciriza Houtchens' class, studying Chinese American culture often brings students into contact with various Asian cultures: Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian -- or "Chino," as Leong refers to them collectively. In this way, Leong investigates the relationship between different types of Asian American identity.
Leong has published both scholarship and poetry, including Asian American Sexualities: Dimensions of the Gay and Lesbian Experience. His work has been anthologized in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Charlie Chan is Dead, The Open Boat, Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers, ZYZZYVA, The New England Review, and The United States of Poetry. Phoenix Eyes and Other Stories, Leong's collection of short fiction, was honored with the 2001 American Book Award. The Country of Dreams and Dust was awarded the PEN Josephine Miles Literature Award in 1993.
Works by the Author