How Do I Look?
It is beautiful because it has nothing to do with you.
Through a series of short vignettes, Sennah Yee’s debut full-length book How Do I Look? paints a colourful portrait of a woman both raised and repelled by the media. With pithy, razor-sharp prose, Sennah dissects and reassembles pop culture through personal anecdotes, crafting a love-hate letter to the media and the microaggressions that have shaped how she sees herself and the world. How Do I Look? is a raw and vulnerable reflection on identities real and imagined.
Sennah Yee is from Toronto, where she writes poetry, prose, and film criticism. She is the author of two chapbooks, THE AQUARIUM and THE GL.A.DE (Dancing Girl Press), and the children’s book MY DAY WITH GONG GONG (Annick Press). Her Cinema & Media Studies MA thesis focused on gendered robot design in popular media.
“In Yee's poetry, whole worlds, multiple worlds, can live in just a few sentences, and countless people and histories can exist within one person's body. It almost makes reading full novels feel silly when you can live a whole life in just one of Yee's paragraphs.”
– Mitski, pop star
"Sennah Yee's How Do I Look? is a selfie through a webcam in the compact mirror tossed over the shoulder of a nightswimmer into a suburban chlorine pool. These poems are the hit radio lyrics that roll around in the mind before falling asleep, the silently crafted love poems for an unrequited crush written on a blog saved in drafts, the emails sent to one's future self opened at a karaoke bar years later in another country. How Do I Look? made me look back and get home safe. I look in the rear view mirror to find flowers growing out of me."
- Stacey Tran, author of Soap for the Dogs
"Sennah Yee has written a book full of wit and fire. This is a work to read and reread. The individual pieces build on each other to reveal the fractured self beneath and the ways the Western world fractures people who 'look like Mulan.' A fierce new literary voice. Don't miss this one."
- Matthew Salesses, author of The Hundred-Year Flood
"At first glance, it might not seem as if How Do I Look? is about survival. But in each of these brief vignettes, Sennah Yee is tested over & over again by white supremacy, racism, fetishization, heteronormativity & all the other worst parts of Western culture that constantly deluge the screens & scenes of our upbringing. And yet, Sennah Yee survives every microaggression. Sennah Yee has teflon in her blood & How Do I Look? is sparkling sunset over Liberty City & absolute proof that she is bulletproof."
- Mark Cugini, author of I’m Just Happy To Be Here
Broken Pencil | "To read Yee's poetry feels intimate. In small vignettes written in prose poetry, it captures what it means to live in a body that is distorted by the tensions of visibility and invisibility."
Daily Public | “How Do I Look? is ultimately a book about a woman of color growing up in a world of avatars and Snapchat filters, and it challenges everything from internalized racism and heteronormativity to fetishization and men in film school."
Savoir | "You know those memes that are like "how I look in my selfies vs. how I look when someone takes a photo of me?" I keep thinking about that, and how my mirror image also doesn't look anything like photos of me, and then this snowballs to how I don't know how OTHERS see me and how I have no control over that, and then how I don't even know how I see others, if they themselves don't know how to see themselves...!"
Shondaland | "I really think of my book as a time capsule or 'letter from the future,' or now, to my past self. Dialogues between my different selves and different times. Even some things I read in the book, I already don’t feel like that anymore. But I enjoy those moments, looking at myself looking at myself. It feels a little cyborgian, and stepping outside of myself is attractive to me."
ÄLPHÄ | Interview
rob mcclennan | 12 or 20 Questions with Sennah Yee | "As for the kinds of questions that I am trying to answer with my work: Who/what has control over how I look at myself/the world? In what ways can I return this gaze and reclaim this control?”