Thousand Star Hotel

Poetry by Bao Phi

July 5, 2017 • 6 x 9 • 112 Pages • 978-1-56689-470-8

Poems from a father, a refugee, an activist resisting the invisibility of the Asian American urban poor.

Thousand Star Hotel confronts the silence around racism, police brutality, and the invisibility of the Asian American urban poor.

This project made possible with special funding from the Fringe Foundation.

About the Author

Bao Phi is a multiple-time Minnesota Grand Slam poetry champ and National Poetry Slam finalist who has been on HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry and whose work was included in the Best American Poetry anthology of 2006. He is the author of Sông I Sing and is currently the program director of the Loft Literary Center.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


Winner of the 2017 Poetry Center Book Award

“Bao Phi’s Thousand Star Hotel is a vividly inward look at an Asian American experience that never flinches from the hard realizations of humanity. Bao ties generations together at his personal crossroad of fatherhood and lets the reader see, feel, and hear the electricity of his renowned stage performance blossoming on the page. Bao’s poems haunt our collective American psyche until a ‘new region of the tongue is discovered’ that lets us know what ‘tastes like the middle of the crosshairs of a drone bomber / tastes like science concocting survival.’” —Tyehimba Jess, author of Olio

“[Phi’s] irreverent profundity shines in prose poems and fixed forms alike.” —New York Times Book Review

“[Phi’s] fluid, open writing is frequently shot through with moments of lyricism. . . . Accessible, accomplished, and troubling, this should intrigue many ­readers.” —Library Journal

“The strength of this book comes from the clear and forceful voice. The words leap off the pages, half alive already. . . . Thousand Star Hotel is a fierce, burning indictment of racism and xenophobia.” —Chicago Review of Books

Thousand Star Hotel is a cutting collection of poems about growing up a refugee, becoming a father, feeling surrounded by police brutality and the invisibility of poor Asian-Americans.” —NPR’s Code Switch

“Filled with snapshots of the American immigrant experience, intense love for family, and deep empathy for community, this latest poetry collection by National Poetry Slam finalist Bao Phi, Thousand Star Hotel, challenges racism, police brutality, and the silencing invisibility of the Asian American urban poor.” —Bustle

“Written with immense empathy and honesty, Thousand Star Hotel is a moving, heartbreakingly beautiful portrait of the lives of Vietnamese refugees in the U.S.” —BuzzFeed

“Much more than a set of poems, [Thousand Star Hotel] is its own history: a chronicle of Phi’s family, present, past and future. Spinning this history together from fragments of memory and reflection, the collection provides a critical thread in the fabric of Asian American literature, history, and activism—past and present.” —Kartika Review

“There’s sparkling range within these poems, and the reach is fluid. . . . [Phi] takes disparate and precise moments of family, work, fatherhood, and shows their wider echo.” —The Millions

Thousand Star Hotel is equal parts heartbreaking and bitingly funny. . . . This volume is a must-read for readers seeking a greater understanding of race, but also for any reader who has children or parents, experienced heartbreak, or just loves the sound of finely wrought lines.” —Star Tribune

Thousand Star Hotel skillfully weaves a range of topics—police brutality, Asian American representation, masculinity, fatherhood, and his immigrant experience growing up in Minnesota, to name just a few.” —Angry Asian Man

“While writing about his experience with racism on the streets of the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, and his encounters with a cultural mainstream in which he barely sees his people represented, Phi paints a sensitive portrait of his life as both an outsider to, and a participant in, mainstream American culture.” —The Rumpus

“A beautiful collection of passionate poems that explores the deep-seated trauma and discrimination in an Asian-American life.” —Sonder

“These poems are significant and weighty, but in an instant they go from somber to full of swagger, and I can’t emphasize enough how thrilling they felt to read.” –The Margins

“[Phi] has few peers that can match him in his assessment of contemporary culture and social justice.” —Cultural Weekly

“[Thousand Star Hotel] is bold in its language for experiences that oscillate between existence and erasure, and it is moving in its mission to challenge the boundaries of solidarity and to refuse neat conceptions of past, present and future.” —Writers’ Block Blog

“The many fans of Bao Phi will be thrilled by this book. New readers will be seduced by his trademark blend of passion, politics, and poetry. His poems alternate between the profane and the provocative as they deal with war and history, love and heartbreak, the inner city and the inner self. A powerful read, a gutsy writer.” —Viet Thanh Nguyen

Thousand Star Hotel feels bracing and true. Phi’s voice is as electric in print as on the stage, coupling precise imagery with a surprising frankness.” —The Rumpus

“At once tender and taboo-busting, pithy and sprawling, effulgent and expository, Thousand Star Hotel is a compendium of ‘warring ideals’ spoken through the voices and seen through the eyes of a refugee child turned poet adult, his embattled parents, neighborhood pals and bullies, past flames and would-be lovers, an exotifying culture—not to mention Phi’s young daughter, for whom the collection is a record with which she might one day construct her own consciousness.” —Kenyon Review

“Bao Phi’s Thousand Star Hotel echoes the fire in his earlier work, which skewers racism and class with the precision of a skilled chef. Yet, when Phi splits open the vulnerable and humbling moments of love, childhood, and fatherhood, he creates a body of satisfying, poignant poems that create moments of quiet introspection like diners hushed by the first bites of an anticipated meal. Bao Phi carries an honest, powerful voice, and he is not afraid to look into the boiling pots of his past or the roiling violence in America and abroad.” —Tara Betts, author of Break the Habit

“Bao Phi. . . cinches the balance between lively rhetoric for the stage and subtle delights on the page.” —The Corresponder

“If you want a truly raw and American experience, one that just might help explain the day-to-day culmination of white supremacy, genocide, and absurd politics, then Bao Phi has a room with a tough and vital view.” —NewPages

“[Thousand Star Hotel] is both a loving history for the poet’s daughter and a powerful resistance to cultural erasure.” —Monitor St. Paul

“Though often painful in its witness to violence, these poems offer quiet celebration of survival and resilience, often from an older adult speaker looking back at his younger self.” —Brazos Bookstore