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Transcript: Poems on Air, Episode 6 - Teresa Mei Chuc

[Music intro]

LYNNE THOMPSON: Hello! My name is Lynne Thompson, Poet Laureate for the City of Los Angeles and I’m so happy to welcome listeners to this installment of Poems on Air, a podcast supported by the Los Angeles Public Library. Every week, I’ll present the work of poets I admire, poets who you should know, and poets who have made a substantial and inimitable contribution to the art and craft of poetry.

LYNNE THOMPSON: Beginning with the first quarter of 2020 and up to the present, more than one national report has found that there’s been a surge of anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S. of almost 170%. On March 16, 2021, a young man targeted and killed, among others, six Asian American women in Atlanta, Georgia. Their loss is beyond horrible, beyond unfathomable, and each is irreplaceable. In their memory and in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I will be highlighting the voices of a few American poets whose roots are firmly planted in the Asian diaspora. In addition, this month I will be adding reading recommendations of other Asian Pacific American poets to the Library’s Blog. I begin this month with Teresa Mei Chuc was born in Viet Nam from which she escaped with her family when she was only two years old. She teaches in a Los Angeles County public school and is the Poet Laureate Emerita of Altadena, California.

LYNNE THOMPSON: Today’s poem is “Agent Blue” by Teresa Mei Chuc.

Agent Blue

To kill correctly
takes calculation.

Down to a science.
cacodylic acid.

Know water and rice
on a cellular level.

Make sure
no surviving
seed can be
and planted.

Because even
a small seed

and bombs
cannot destroy
a grain.

Because our
heart is made
of seeds.

Know what it
takes to kill
the seeds.

Know what it
takes to deprive
the plant of water,
to dehydrate it.

To be surrounded
by love but unable
to absorb it.

LYNNE THOMPSON: The Los Angeles Poet Laureate was created as a joint program between the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles Public Library and this podcast will be available on the Library’s website. In the future, episodes will be available on iTunes, Google, and Spotify. Thanks for listening!

[Music outro]

  • Back to Poems on Air: Episode 6

  • DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a certified or verbatim transcript, but rather represents only the context of the class or meeting, subject to the inherent limitations of real-time captioning. The primary focus of real-time captioning is general communication access and as such this document is not suitable, acceptable, nor is it intended for use in any type of legal proceeding. Transcript provided by the author.