A blurb by Ravi Shankar about Joseph Stanton’s Things Seen, just published:
[This] is one of the great books of poetry this year. His is a major voice and these poems artifacts of an exquisite musical craftsman possessed of a generosity of vision and a special quality of attention that transforms art into being. As the poem about Paul Gauguin’s “Vision After the Sermon” offers us, “a roseate window” in which the story “gleams for all to see; / my struggle to know, my difficult wrestling / with that indefatigable god—/ my deft, ungraspable self.” Things Seen is divided into five discrete sections—ekphrasis that gives fresh insight into that timeless practice; reinventions of fairy tales that remake the Prince Frog, The Fir Apple, Godfather Death and leave us the Shepherd Boy to calculate the universe; Noh variations that demonstrate why that word is derived from the Japanese word for “skill”; a series on Edward Hopper that intertwines his art and life; and deft poems about paintings about baseball—and yet by the end the sections feel as triumphantly cohesive as the movements in a symphony. Things Seen offers us the poet at the height of perception and the skills of conjuration.
Joseph Stanton’s other books of poetry are Imaginary Museum: Poems on Art, A Field Guide to the Wildlife of Suburban O‘ahu, Cardinal Points, and What the Kite Thinks (in collaboration with Makoto Ōoka, Wing Tek Lum, and Jean Toyama). His poems have appeared in Poetry, New Letters, Antioch Review, and many other journals. He is a professor at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where he teaches art history and American studies.
Sutajio Wena, 2016
Ramen, also known as chukka soba (Chinese noodles), originated in China and spread to Japan in the 1880’s. Japanese troops returning from colonial Manchuria further popularized this dish. This short story, written in English and Chinese (simple script) for English-speaking students of the Chinese language, is set during the last days of the Second World War, when a Japanese military officer rediscovers his memories associated with ramen on the streets of Occupied Singapore. Illustrated with black and white photographs of Japan and Singapore. Features a photo gallery, with explanations, of noodle dishes in Japan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and America. Includes a study guide for students. (Publisher’s description)
When Japan surrendered to the Allies at the end of WWII, more than 6 million of their citizens were left stranded abroad. In China alone there were 2.6 million Japanese, despised by the world and forgotten by their government. Determined to survive, the brilliant military doctor Arthur Hayashi, in Wena Poon’s latest novel, hides in Communist China for decades and leaves his granddaughter an unforgettable legacy. According to Poon, “Hayashi is a role I created in order to answer my own question, ‘What does it mean to look exactly like the enemy?’” (Adapted from the Japan Times)
Wena Poon’s first novel, Alex y Robert, was adapted by the BBC and broadcast as a 10-episode Radio 4 series. Born and raised in Singapore, Poon graduated from Harvard Law School and is a lawyer by profession.
by Simon Perchik
River Otter, 2016
Simon Perchik’s poems are astonishing, unadorned, unpretentious, pure music and thought, which seem to arise together as inevitable and unalterable. With few other poets do we feel as though we are listening to poetry itself, unmediated by an author, speaking in its own voice, in its own terms, of its own concerns. A reader returns to Perchik’s work again and again and is always refreshed, surprised, and thankful for its lyrical wholeness. — Frank Stewart
Simon Perchik was born in 1923 and began publishing poetry the 1960s. Educated at New York University, he now lives in East Hampton, New York. Library Journal has referred to Perchik as “the most widely published unknown poet in America.” He has has published over twenty books.
by Scott Ezell
University of Nebraska Press, 2016
The world Ezell embraced in 2002 was one of Taiwanese Aboriginals carving sculptures using chain-saws from often huge pieces of driftwood, drinking rice wine, chewing betel-nut and generally living a life of communal ease in Taiwan’s relatively pristine south-east. The group of friends informally called themselves the Open Circle Tribe, and have since become known as significant and saleable artists; they’ve even had doctorates written about them. But 13 years ago they were unknown to the outside world. Most outsiders who hear the Siren song of the Bohemian life have personal motives for adopting it, but none is immediately apparent in this book, other than a desire to find fulfillment. What can be said is that such people are rarely happy to remain Bohemians for ever, or indeed for long (Ezell says he “couldn’t imagine being buried here”). If they end up combining elements of their new life-style with their older interests then they’re lucky indeed, and this Scott Ezell appears to have accomplished. — Bradley Winterton, Taipei Times
Scott Ezell is a writer and artist living in California and Asia. He is the author of Petroglyph Americana and the chapbook Hanoi Rhapsodies, and is the editor and coauthor of Songs from a Yahi Bow.
edited by P. Christiaan Klieger
Lexington Books, 2016
The term Greater Tibet is inclusive of all peoples who generally speak languages from the Tibetan branch of the Tibeto-Burman family, have a concept of mutual origination, and share some common historical narratives: peoples from the Central Asian Republics, Pakistan, India, Nepal Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, People’s Republic of China, Mongolia, Russia, and Tibetan people in diaspora abroad. The term may even include practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism who are not of Tibetan origin, and Tibetan peoples who do not practice Buddhism. Greater Tibet thus refers to an area many times larger than the current Tibet Autonomous Region in China. This collection of papers was inspired by a panel on Greater Tibet held at the XIIIth meeting of the International Association of Tibet Studies in Ulaan Baatar in 2013. Participants were leading Tibet scholars, experts in international law, and Tibetan officials. Topics covered include Tibetan refugees, immigrants, Tibet’s relations with India, China, and the Russian Federation. The papers suffer from poor editing, but are a welcome addition to readings about the area. (Adapted publisher’s description)
P. Christiaan Klieger is an American anthropologist and Tibetologist at the California Academy of Science in San Francisco.
by Phyllis Gray Young
Lightning Source International, 2015
Part contemporary sea tale, part imaginative fable, Sea Home follows one woman’s passage into a new life. As a girl, Rosie Fields dreamed of a sea home and a metamorphosis. As a grownup, in the routine rhythms of her job as a nurse, she loses sight of her ocean dream until she falls in love with a stranger who unexpectedly enters her life. Together they embark on a journey that takes her from a research vessel in Hawaiian waters to the landscapes of Italy, England, and the Azores. While her lover studies the evolutionary history of squids, she reflects on the past–the father who died when she was a child and the nearly forgotten sea stories he told her. Rosie struggles to reclaim the stories along with her dreams, and to find the sea home that seems just beyond her reach. (Publisher’s description)
Phyllis Gray Young is a retired nurse. She lives and writes in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.
by Jia Pingwa
University of Oklahoma Press, 2016
When originally published in 1993, Ruined City (Fei Du) was banned by China’s State Publishing Administration for its explicit sexual content. Since then, Jia Pingwa’s novel of contemporary China’s social and economic transformation has become a bestseller. The story of a famous contemporary writer’s sexual and legal tangles, the novel uses comedy and parody to comment on issues of intellectual seriousness, censorship, and artistic integrity in a changing Chinese society. (Adapted from publisher’s description)
Jia Pingwa (1952- ) stands with Mo Yan and Yu Hua as one of the most prominent and prolific novelists in contemporary Chinese literature. His novels, short stories and essays have a large readership in mainland China, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The French translation of Ruined City won the French Prix Femina in 1997.