Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Jane Wong (Bellingham) is a poet, essayist, and professor who grew up in a Chinese American take-out restaurant. Her poems can be found in Best American Poetry 2015, American Poetry Review, jubilat, among others. A Kundiman fellow, she is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the U.S. Fulbright Program, the Fine Arts Work Center, Hedgebrook, 4Culture, and Bread Loaf. The author of Overpour (Action Books, 2016), Jane is an assistant professor at Western Washington University. Invested in public scholarship, her project on the poetics of haunting in Asian American poetry has appeared as a TEDx talk and a multimedia website.

Jane's writing seeks to name forgotten histories and address the intergenerational impacts of migration and violence. As a writer challenged by language and its innumerable possibilities, she is first and foremost a radical reader. Jane supports and champions writers of color via her communities, classroom, and grateful bookshelf.

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.
From the Artist

I am awe-struck in receiving the James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award. The images that swarmed around me when I got the call: my mother working night shift at the post office, dropping wonton wrappers into my old restaurant's deep fryer, my grandmother's cabinet full of plastic bags in plastic bags, for we can not waste anything. At this very moment, I am working on two manuscripts: a second book of poems on the Great Leap Forward and a collection of nonfiction essays (on topics such as growing up in a restaurant, my father’s gambling addiction and casinos targeting low-income, immigrant areas, and more).

This award means the world to me - to my family, to this deeply personal endeavor that is art. This grant is an incredible catalyst for these two projects and will surely deepen my growth as an artist. This past October, I lost my grandfather, who was a survivor of the Great Leap Forward - a Maoist campaign from 1958-1962 that led to massive starvation. I hold this award in his honor and lineage. How, across distances of poverty, migration, and silenced histories, I am able to sing forth his stories and the stories of my missing family members. I feel grateful, proud, and reinvigorated to enact change through writing. With many thanks to Artist Trust, the Raynier Institute & Foundation, and the Frye Art Museum for believing in me, my communities, and my ghosts.

Jane Wong