Aimee Nezhukumatathil

American writer

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is an American poet and essayist.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil


  • One thing I discovered, when I was doing reading for this [collection], is that one of the roots of the word wonder means to smile. Wonder is wanting to know more about others, with a smile. It’s that joy. And I don’t know if this sounds Pollyannaish, but you don’t have to teach a kid to wonder…
  • I love the poet Kwame Dawes, and I always come back to this quote of his: “We are political by our noise and by our silence.” What we choose to be excited about is political. For the longest time, I’d kind of cringe, thinking I’m not bold enough to be political. His words really helped me own the power of my own enthusiasm. Think of how many things weren’t championed by the publishing world in the ’80s and ’90s. Think of how many things weren’t even encouraged. It’s not that there weren’t Asian Americans writing literature or writing about nature. The publishing houses chose not to publish them. That’s a political statement, too….So for anybody who says, Oh, I don’t want to get too political here—we’re all political. You’re political by what you champion and what you stay quiet about.
  • … I still think of that 8-year-old girl who loved sitting on the floor of her library, reading about animals and plants. How excited I was to read new nature books. Every time, turn to the back cover, and it was always a White guy. I never saw someone like me. I might have started thinking, maybe outdoors is not for me [if it wasn’t for] my parents, who showed me what it means to have a garden and how much fun it was to memorize the constellations. So it was weird, because I was internalizing what I saw as a lover of pop culture, but what my parents modeled was different…
  • …It was very purposeful that I included animals that I’ve never touched, never looked into their eyes. We should be able to care for creatures outside of [our immediate vicinity]. We should be able to care about plants and animals and people that we’ve never seen before.

Quotes about Aimee Nezhukumatathil

  • Aimee Nezhukumatathil, who uses poetry to write of the wonders of the natural world. She writes about being brown in white America, about being a daughter, a wife, a mother, of being a woman making sense of her own skin.
    • Roxane Gay in Who Reads Poetry edited by Fred Sasaki and Don Share (2017)
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