We’re thrilled to announce Stella Wong and Ariel Yelen as the 2024 Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets authors, the first two poets included in the annual series under Rowan Ricardo Phillips’ editorship.
Wong’s collection, Stem, draws inspiration from a rich tapestry of sources: the musical notation of note stems, the achievements of women in STEM fields, and the bow of a ship. Phillips observes that “something is always sprouting up … something botanical and slightly, enthrallingly messy.” The poems are skillfully crafted, dancing between the abstract and the concrete, where tangible realities give rise to philosophical musings and vice versa. Through the dramatic monologues of pioneering female synthesizer artists like Beatriz Ferreyra, Mira Calix, and Clara Rockmore, Wong interlaces personal narratives with a broader commentary on electronic music, the art of diving, and Buddhist contemplation. The collection thrives on a tone that oscillates between reflection and spontaneity, crafting a world that is as inviting as it is imaginative.
Yelen’s I Was Working—praised by Phillips as a “striking collection”—was largely written from her office cubicle and indeed the workplace features prominently in many of the poems, which seek to distinguish a song of the self from the routines and pressures of late capitalism. Yelen describes the collection as a dialectic between labor and pleasure, where the beeping of a microwave in the staff lounge becomes an opportunity for song, and a vacuous hole in the ground an opportunity for profit. The poet tries to write from a cubicle while it’s being sawed in half, and in an effort to feel free, she quits everything—except for work.
Anne Savarese, literature publisher, notes, “We’re delighted to welcome Ariel Yelen and Stella Wong to the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets list and to celebrate the inaugural publications under Rowan Ricardo Phillips’s new editorship, as we look forward to the books’ release later this year.”
Stem and I Was Working will be published in September. Please stay tuned for information to come about author events in the autumn.
About Stella Wong
Stella Wong received degrees from Harvard University, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and Columbia University. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Colorado Review, Bennington Review, Prairie Schooner, American Poetry Review, and other publications. Her chapbook American Zero (Two Sylvias Press) won the Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize, judged by Danez Smith, and her poetry collection Spooks won the Saturnalia Books Editors Prize.
About Ariel Yelen
Ariel Yelen’s poems have been published in BOMB, Prelude, American Poetry Review, Changes Review, Second Factory, Poetry Magazine, Washington Square Review, and other journals. She holds an MFA from Rutgers University–Newark and is most recently the recipient of a 2023-2024 Creative Arts Fulbright Grant to Greece. As a former editor for the NYC-based publishing collaborative Futurepoem Books, she founded their digital space, futurefeed. I Was Working will be her first book.
About the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets
Starting in 1975, the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets quickly distinguished itself as one of the most important publishing projects of its kind, winning praise from critics and poets alike and bringing out landmark books by figures such as Robert Pinsky, Ann Lauterbach, and Jorie Graham. Relaunched in 2010 under the editorship of Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Paul Muldoon, edited from 2013 to 2023 by the poet and MacArthur fellow Susan Stewart, and now edited by the acclaimed poet Rowan Ricardo Phillips, the series continues to publish the best work of today’s emerging and established poets. Submissions will open for the 2025 Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets will be open from May 1–31, 2024.