Selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil as the winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, Danni Quintos carves a space for brown girls and weird girls in her debut collection of poems.
Two Brown Dots explores what it means to be a racially ambiguous, multiethnic, Asian American woman growing up in Kentucky. In stark, honest poems, Quintos recounts the messiness and confusion of being a typical ‘90s kid—watching Dirty Dancing at sleepovers, borrowing eye shadow out of a friend’s caboodle, crushing on a boy wearing khaki shorts to Sunday mass—while navigating the microagressions of the neighbor kids, the awkwardness of puberty, and the casual cruelties of fellow teenagers. The mixed-race daughter of a dark skinned Filipino immigrant, Quintos retells family stories and Phillipine folklore to try and make sense of an identity with roots on opposite sides of the globe.
With clear-eyed candor and a wry sense of humor, Quintos teases the line between tokenism and representation, between assimilation and belonging, offering a potent antidote to the assumption that “American” means “white.” Encompassing a whole journey from girlhood to motherhood, Two Brown Dots subverts stereotypes to reclaim agency and pride in the realness and rawness and unprettyness of a brown girl’s body, boldly declaring: We exist, we belong, we are from here, and we will continue to be.
“With remarkable humor and candor, Danni Quintos blazes across these pages in a most magical debut. You'll be utterly charmed and entranced by her poems, which ignite questions of desire and justice rarely offered– unless one amalgamates folklore and childhood in such a brilliantly expansive, moving way. This is it. This is the one you were waiting for.”
— Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks & Other Astonishments
“Who but the Filipina girl, the keen discerning granddaughter of lola, with the unquiet mind, could turn the hurt and brutality, the invisibility of coming of age in late 20th century America, into an iridescent book of modern day brown girl psalms.”
— Nikky Finney, author of Love Child's Hotbed of Occasional Poetry: Poems and Artifacts
“Danni Quintos’s book Two Brown Dots, in addition to thinking hard about motherhood, the body, ancestry, and more, is one of the most beautiful and tender and honest depictions of the youthful negotiations of racism I’ve ever read: the lostness, the entanglements, the confusions, the hurts, the loves. How many times I gasped or dropped my head into my hands or shook my head in recognition at how clearly, how precisely, she depicted what I have felt but never quite had the words or courage to say. It is a wonder how poems can care for us like that. It is a mercy.”
— Ross Gay, author of Be Holding
- Cream City Review’s Summer Prize
- A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize