Maw Shein Win is a Burmese-American poet, editor and educator who lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. From delightful koans and cine-poetics to autobiographical lyricism and indexes of pain, Maw Shein Win’s poems usually feature meticulously constructed staccato soundscapes, perhaps unintentionally revealing her drumming background in the Los Angeles art punk scene in the 1980s. Assured and abrupt as her sound may be, the sense one gets from her poetry is the kind of edginess often associated with great women poets, from Dickinson to Szymborska.
Memory plays a big part in Win's poetry. Yet she deals with memory the way she deals with her solid Burmese stock: neither excruciatingly repressed, nor laboriously recollected. Her poem, THE WHEELCHAIR probably is such a memory. On the other hand, selective memory is preserved like a pickle in "Insomnia, hives, anxiety, allergies, poor memory. Truly, you don't remember?/ Well I do. You were wearing a blue cashmere coat that day."
Win's writing has appeared in many journals and several anthologies, including Cimarron Review, Fanzine, The Fabulist, among others. She was an Artist in Residence at Headlands Center for the Arts and is a member of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto. Win often collaborates with visual artists, musicians and other writers.
THE TREACHERY OF IMAGES is a paratactical rebuff against the Belgian artist René Magritte's 1928 painting of a smoking pipe, under which is written "Ceci n'est pas une pipe. [This is Not a Pipe.]". While Magritte's painting challenges the notion of representation in visual arts, Win challenges representation in literary arts. In DIALOGUES #12, one of the other poems in an affirmative tone, Win declares: "I recognize her voice because it's my voice. I don't know that name because it's his name. You thought you heard my voice, but it was your voice. I think your voice has a name, but it's my name."
Win is the first poet laureate of El Cerrito, California. Her poetry was featured in artist Megan Wilson's mural, Flower Interruption, a public artwork in the special exhibition Flower Power at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum. Her full-length poetry collection, Invisible Gifts, will be published by Manic D Press in April 2018.
Ruins of a Glittering Palace, SPA/Commonwealth Projects 2013
Score and Bone, Oakland CA, Nomadic Press 2016
Invisible Gifts, Poems, San Francisco, Manic D Press, 2018
Women's Voices for Change Poetry Sunday
GrottoPod interview with the poet
KALW Public radio interview with the poet
Score and Bone