Jennifer Hayashida is a poet, translator, and artist. She was born in Oakland, CA, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden. She earned her BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. Her translations from the Swedish include work by Ida Börjel, Athena Farrokhzad, and Fredrik Nyberg, and she is the recipient of awards from organizations such as the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She serves on the board of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.
Some forms of travel leave mostly intangible traces: impressions, like the soft dent in an infant's head—a passing receptivity to what divides the world. As with translation, both host and visitor are necessarily transformed. A Machine Wrote this Song exists in this space of necessity, an urgent reminder that when we cast our attention with intent, we fortify our margins against the conditions of control. What can take place in these margins fills these poems with relation: to family and the domestic; to history's trampling of polis and land; to the subjective architecture of inter-lingual, intergenerational, transcultural life; to looking down and up. Jennifer Hayashida has written a searing and haunting book, one I read without moving, almost without breathing. It followed me to the streets, the subway; it left a dent. Transformed, "I nodded off, then on."
Jennifer Hayashida’s brilliant debut collection traces transnational movements of capital, from vocabulary to vegetables, in a song scrambled by industry and technology, by cruelty and intimacy, family and geography. The book is steely, motherly, tender, violent, elegiac—combinations often unseen yet lived daily. With grammar acute enough to enact our emergencies, attention careful enough to catch “the last sound from the past,” Hayashida’s A Machine Wrote This Song shocks us awake. When I lift my gaze from it, everything’s somehow alien, millimeters off. I’ve been waiting for this book, and what a stunning arrival it is, what a necessary disillusionment for us all, here in the late empire.