Dumb Luck & other poems

poetry chapbook, Texas Review Press, 2024
Winner of the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook prize, selected by Alison Pelegrin

“From Congressional depositions to watching a boy turn circles in a parking lot on a scooter, Kitano’s poems wonder about probability and how one set of circumstances makes way for a bright world of possibility. Sometimes the scenarios shine into remarkable discoveries like recollecting the sheen of a driveway, while others tug the reader inward into the secret and sacred. Each miraculous poem attempts to quantify the far-reaching mysteries of all that is imaginable despite the limitations of the known. These are remarkable poems.”

OIiver de la Paz, author of The Diaspora Sonnets

Dumb Luck & other poems is such a gem. I love the voice of these poems, and their kind of reckless optimism. It is a well-crafted manuscript—the author balances on the razor’s edge of dumb luck and what could be, acknowledging both the world’s perils and the bubble that shields her—at least for now—with good fortune.

―Alison Pelegrin, author of Waterlines, and contest judge

“In this mesmerizing collection of poems, Christine Kitano considers luck, fate, precarity, and power—particularly with respect to the ways in which these elements act upon and impact marginalized bodies. These gracefully nuanced and complex poems braid together moments of personal, embodied vulnerability—for example, the precarity of a young Asian American woman being harassed by a group of white men, the trespass of a woman’s body undergoing medical examination, or the privilege required to survive the COVID-19 pandemic—juxtaposed against moments of bodily violation and violence writ large upon the contemporary public stage, such as Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, or the murder of George Floyd. Kitano deftly unfolds the ways in which luck is arbitrary, lacks sentience, is sometimes brutal, often aligned with power and privilege, and can function as a kind of silence or silencing. These are poems that talk, sing, and shout back to luck in full and glorious breath.”

Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of tsunami vs. the fukushima 50

“‘Is this the reward for good luck,’ Christine Kitano writes, ‘just a more / comfortable survival?’ But these poems are anything but ‘comfortable.’ Both precisely wrought and emotionally searing, these poems ask incisive questions about luck, fate, and being human in this uniquely American moment. This is an important collection of poetry by one of our best poets.”

Matthew Olzmann, author of Constellation Route

They Rise Like a Wave:
An Anthology of Asian American Women Poets

poetry anthology, Blue Oak Press, 2022
co-edited with Alycia Pirmohamed

At a time when institutional policies have sought to silence, marginalize, deport, or otherwise erase the existences of women of color, our poets have never been less silent. This anthology aims to spotlight the voices of Asian American women and non-binary poets writing through these difficult times. Our contributors range from established poets who are widely published, such as Marilyn Chin, Franny Choi, Victoria Chang, Devi S. Laskar and Bhanu Kapil, to emerging voices such as Paul Tran, Ryka Aoki, Hyejung Kook, and Monica Sok. In They Rise Like A Wave, we've chosen to foster a poetics of breaking boundaries, experimenting with language, and revitalizing a historically narrow and oppressive Western canon. In our selections, we endeavor to show that there is no single style, topic, or theme that defines an Asian American poetics At this time of reckoning and renewal, let us remember that our poetry can be both a reflection of lived experience as well as a call to imagine how to build a better world.

They Rise Like a Wave Teaching Toolkit

Sky Country

poetry collection, BOA Editions, 2017
Winner of the Central New York Book Award
Finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize

“Christine Kitano writes with clarity and honesty about displacement, deracination, and cultural identity. Her poems in this book convey the dignity of the immigrant in America, the ‘sky country’ of the title. In one of the most moving of them, ‘A Story with No Moral,’ we can see that indeed there is moral depth to all that she writes. She expresses that depth when she affirms, in ‘Autobiography of the Poet at Sixteen,’ ‘we are built for life, / for love, which means / we are built for pain.’ These poems are testimonies of survival and we need their witness as much as ever.”
Mark Jarman, author of The Heronry

“The poems in Sky Country weave, unravel, and stitch together history and time with such a fierce originality that the images buzz in the mind. Lyrically vibrant and sonically alive, Kitano’s gorgeous poems remind us that we are always linked to immigration, to the women that raised us, and it’s through our own language that we do the honoring.”
Ada Limón

“The poems in Sky Country sound far from home, stricken with homesickness, and saturated with longing. While they include both personal and collective history, they’re spoken in the voice of someone strangely alienated from the former and unaccounted for and excluded from the latter. Beautiful and moving.”
Li-Young Lee 

“Kitano’s alluring, well-crafted poems are attuned to tragedy and loss, yet an element of wonder shines through.”
Publishers Weekly

Reviews: The Journal, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Atticus Review, Foreword Reviews

Birds of Paradise

poetry collection, Lynx House Press, 2011

"Newcomer Christine Kitano writes with purpose and intensity about the disturbing subjects of her youth, her family interned in camps, her unborn twin, her mother's cruelty, her father's death. Throughout it all, the grey, almost invisible child, 'born of everybody's second choice' watches wonders and survives. 'Someone is waiting for me to die,' she writes, 'to crack my bones / open in search of music.' A haunting debut."
―Dorianne Laux

"Birds of Paradise is a book haunted by ghosts—the restless spirits of a lost father, lost relatives, lost languages. Whether confronting the immense cruelty of the Internment camps, or the smallest childhood sorrow, Christine Kitano recognizes that no calamity, no pain is trivial, and in these moving poems, each is given its due. These are poems of portent, both ominous and salutary: wind pushes a woman out of the way of a speeding car; a girl applies vanishing cream in a vain attempt to disappear. Kitano moves effortlessly through time in these poems, and the insomnia she describes is not a condition, but a zone, a place where dream and reality, past and present work their magic on the poet’s heart. “Everything withers,” a grandmother confesses, but in these poems the generations reach across time, through history and through dreams to hold one another, to comfort the living and to rescue the dead."
Gary Young

"A girl whose hair “rises and sparks” becomes her cello, makes mochi the day her father dies to create a “veil between the living and the dead,” who says “without pretty clothes, I was a broken doll,” and remembers her father's history looking at a photo of her “Aunt Chizu, age 22: Topaz Interment Camp, Utah; July, 1944” -- this is the rich imagery of Christine Kitano's debut collection of poems. She draws me into her memories, where her father's trombone “glints in an overflow of moonlight,” and into her vividly imagined daily experiences, where every moment is as pain-tinged as shattering crystal, even working in a sushi restaurant where “Luis' Hands” washing dishes look like “two orange koi swimming in and out of the cup's mouth.” Seeing the world through Christine Kitano's eyes is a touching revelation."
Diane Wakoski

Who You? Hawaii Issei

co-authored with Dennis M. Ogawa
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i' and University of Hawai'i Press, 2017

“Who You?” For Japanese Americans of Hawaii, it is all about the Issei. On the journey to find identity they do not walk alone. The Issei walk with them. They will not lose their way. These stories that honor the Issei are shared by George R. Ariyoshi, former Governor of Hawaii; Fujio Matsuda, former President, University of Hawaii; Sparky Matsunaga, late Senator of Hawaii; Masaji Marumoto, late Justice, Supreme Court of Hawaii; Fumiko Kaya, late founder, Goto of Hiroshima Foundation; and Patsy Sumie Saiki, late author and educator.