Life of Miracles along the Yangtze and Mississippi

by Wang Ping
University of Georgia Press, 2018

Winner of the 2017 Award for Creative Nonficiton from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs

Wang PingThe Yangtze and Mississippi Rivers are the world’s third and fourth greatest. They have in common pollution, sinking deltas and cities (New Orleans and Shanghai), and pollution from agricultural and industrial runoffs. But also long histories of poets and artists inspired by them. Life of Miracles along the Yangtze and Mississippi recounts the events during the author’s trips down the Yang Tze and Mississippi River as part of her Kinship of Rivers project, a public art endeavor “to build kinship among communities along the Mississippi and Yangtze, and bring awareness to the river’s ecosystem through art, literature, music, food and installations of river-flags made by river communities.” Wang writes “since 2012, we’ve traveled along the Yangtze, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, St. Croix, Fraser, Amazon, Ganges, Po, and many other rivers around the world. We paddled and rowed, biked, walked and met with locals to make poetry, arts, music, food. We made friends with thousands of people, made over 3000 river flags, installed them along the rivers and on the Everest (the North Face and South Side), and spread our prayers for peace, harmony and love from the roof of the earth.”

Wang Ping is a poet, photographer, and performance and multimedia artist. She is also the founder and director of the Kinship of Rivers project.

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Two Anthologies of Chinese Poetry

edited by Ming Di
New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry – Tupelo Press, 2013
New Poetry from China: 1917–2017 – Black Square Editions, 2019

New CathwayNew Poetry from China

 

New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry showcases the achievement of Chinese poetry in the last twenty years, a time of tremendous literary ferment in the country, and focuses on a diverse group of poets, including Duo Duo and Liao Yiwu, as well as lesser-known poets such as Zang Di, Xiao Kaiyu, Jiang Tao, and Lu Yue. The anthology also includes eight interviews with the poets. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

New Poetry from China: 1917–2017 consists of poems chosen by poet and translator Ming Di, and features one hundred Chinese poems by writers of many ethnicities such as Yi, Manchu, Tibetan, Mongolian, and others. According to Ming Di, the New Poetry Movement was begun in Beijing in 1917 by Hu Shi, with the goal of changing the literary landscape in China. Ming writes: “Apparently influenced by the Modernist art in New York City and Anglo-American free verse while he was a student at Columbia University, [Hu Shi] wrote a long free verse poem in 1916 as an argument during the fierce and lengthy debate he had with his fellow Chinese students regarding free verse vs. classical poetry, and this obscure poem because the first free verse in vernacular language in the history of Chinese literature. and we are still writing in his shadow today.” Nearly a dozen translators have contributed their work. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Ming Di (pen name of Mindy Zhang) is a Chinese poet and translator who now lives in the United States. She co-founded Poetry East West journal. Some of her books in translation include River Merchant’s Wife, The Book of Cranes, and Empty Chairs—Poems by Liu Xia.

The Tiny Journalist

by Naomi Shihab Nye
BOA Editions, Limited; 2019

Naomi-Shihab-Nye-1-600x600-c-defaultThe title of Naomi Shihab Nye’s latest collection of poetry, The Tiny Journalist, is inspired by the “Youngest Journalist in Palestine,” Janna Jihad Ayyad, who began capturing videos of anti-occupation protests using her mother’s smartphone when she was seven years old. Nye’s father, Aziz, was a Palestinian refugee who became a noted American journalist; their family roots are in a West Bank village near Ayyad’s home. As an advocate for peace across all boundaries, Nye has become an internationally beloved poet, one of the finest and most empathic of her generation.

Naomi Shihab has been a Lannan, Guggenheim, and Witter Bynner fellow and has received many other honors; in 2010, she was elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.

The Betrayed

by Reine Arcache Melvin
Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2018

Melvin The Betrayed is set in a time of dictatorship and political unrest, and it tells the story of two sisters who love the same man. Their passion threatens to lead to betray each other as well as everything that their father stood for. Shy, idealistic Pilar initially resolves to continue her father’s fight against the dictator, while her flamboyant older sister Lali reacts by marrying Arturo, the dicator’s godson. Each tries to find their place in the violent world and continues against the struggle of political corruption and desire. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Reine Arcache Melvin now lives in Paris. Her short stories have appeared in literary reviews and anthologies in the United States, France, and Philippines.

 

Some Unquenchable Desire

by Bhartrihari
translation by Andrew Schelling
Shambhala Publications, 2018

schelling1schelling2Although little is known about his life, the Indian poet Bhartrihari’s poetry shows himself “torn between sexual desire and a hunger to be free of failed love affairs and turbulent karma.” Bhartrihari was a linguist, courtier, and hermit, and he used poetry to look at themes of love, desire, impermanence, despair, anger, and fear. Some Unquenchable Desire covers themes of love, sex, and disappointment, as well as Hindu mythology, and Buddhist philosophical concepts to recall ancient India through the voice of one of its most celebrated poets.

Schelling has also translated Erotic Love Poems from India: 101 Classics on Desire and Passion. The poems in this collection were compiled in the eighth century, and it offers different perspectives of erotic love that range from graceful to playful and intensely passionate while hinting at divine transcendence. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Andrew Schelling is poet, translator, essay writer, and editor. He edited for a samizdat literary journal and studied Sanskrit and Zen Buddhism. His translation for Dropping the Bow: Poems from Ancient India received the Academy of American Poets award in translation in 1992. Schelling teaches at Naropa University.

Stealing with the Eyes

by Will Buckingham
University of Chicago Press, 2018

Stealing with the Eyes.inddAs an anthropologist in training, Will Buckingham went to the Tanimbar Islands of Indonesia with a mission to meet three sculptors: the crippled Matias Fatruan, the buffalo hunter Abraham Amelwatin, Damianus Masele, who was skilled in black magic, but who abstains out of Christian principle. Stealing with the Eyes acts as part memoir and part travelogue, and focuses on the story of these three sculptors. After getting involved with witchcraft, fever, and sickness, Buckingham questions the validity of his anthropological studies before eventually abandoning them.

Buckingham’s encounters with these sculptors also interweaves Tanimbarese history, myth, and philosophy that dates back to ancient times. This story reveals the tension between the past and future, and raises questions on how to make sense of a world that is in constant flux.

Will Buckingham is a writer of fiction and nonfiction for adults and children. He is currently a reader in Writing and Creativity at the Faculty of Humanities at De Montfort University and the author of Sixty-Four Chance Pieces and Lucy and the Rocket Dog.

(Adapted from the publisher’s description)

Poetry and Islands: Materiality and the Creative Imagination

by Rajeev S. Patke
Rowman & Littlefield, 2018

9781783484102An island is either a destination, or a home, or a place of exile and imprisonment, or simply a place to sojourn. It is an ideal vehicle for journeys treated as allegories, or for acts of finding that turn into acts of losing, or the reverse transformation. An island is not a continent; yet it can be an archipelago. An island is both a place in itself and a pretext for imaginings that need a local habitation and a name. It can give relief, and pleasure; or it can frustrate, isolate, and negate. Above all, it both invites and resists — or contains or constrains — the imagination.

In all cultures and times, the poetic imagination has fed on the natural attributes of islands.

Poetry and Islands explores how islands become repositories of human longings and desires, a locus for some of our deepest fears and fantasies. It balances historical and geographical reference with a selective approach to poems and poets in English, and in translations into English. The study of particular poems in which islands figure in exemplary ways is balanced by a more detailed discussion of the poets who have played a major role in shaping human responses to islands on a global scale.

(Adapted from the publisher’s description)