The Conference of the Birds

51fzz9mvysl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Translated by Sholeh Wolpé
W. W. Norton & Company, 2017

Considered by Rumi to be “the master” of Sufi mystic poetry, Attar is best known for his epic poem The Conference of the Birds, a magnificent allegorical tale about the soul’s search for meaning. The poem recounts the perilous journey of the world’s birds to the faraway peaks of Mount Qaf―a mythical mountain that wraps around the earth―in search of the mysterious Simurgh, their king. Attar’s beguiling anecdotes and humor intermingle the sublime with the mundane, the spiritual with the worldly, and the religious with the metaphysical. Reflecting the entire evolution of Sufi mystic tradition, Attar’s poem models the soul’s escape from the mind’s rational embrace. (Publisher’s Description)

Sholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-American poet and writer. She is the recipient of the PEN/Heim Grant, the Midwest Book Award, and the Lois Roth Persian Translation Prize, among others.

Year of Reversible Loss by Norma Farber

 

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Year of Reversible Loss by Norma Farber
El León Literary Arts, 2012

Year of Reversible Loss is an exquisite cornucopia of meditative insight and poetry, pondering the trajectory of grief and capturing its changing rhythms through gemlike poetry and sustained passages of remembrance and reflection. Norma Farber traces the turning of the seasons as a deeply felt metaphor for the journey of the grieving heart in this journal of the year following the death of her husband, Sidney Farber, dedicated pioneer in the field of pediatric oncology.

Where once a leaf clung,
the ashtree wears a scar,
a moon halted at half.

Her observations of the natural world as well as the hidden recesses of the heart are startling, fresh, and brilliant, at once keenly personal and sublimely transcendent.

Sign your name on the wind.
Then I’ll know which way
to follow you.

This is a book to be savored for its insight and surprising humor, and for its passionate, astounding beauty.

Reviewed by Lillian Howan, author of The Charm Buyers.

Coyote Traces: Aku Wuwu’s Poetic Sojourn in America

coyote-traces

Foreign Language Publications, The Ohio State University, 2016

Coyote Traces author Aku Wuwu, of the Yi ethnic minority in Southwest China, shares his real journey through both nations and the internconnection of cultures and languages.

In the words of author Aku Wuwu: “In these poems, I have tried to record the tangible and intangible heritages of Native Americans as I perceive them. In the process, I occassionally invoke my own Nuosu heritage. Imbibing the fresh air of other peoples’ cultures, I ponder over my personal spiritual life and the home of my soul. I wish to combine these shattered fragments into some serious ideas and thoughts. While writing these so-called cross-lingual and cross-cultural texts, I have attempted to explore the real nature of humanity, which has occassionally turned out to be a spiritual pilgramage back to my own native civilization.”

The collection of 80 poems, written in both Chinese and English translations, includes 9 full-color photo plates from the author’s journey. Paperback, 377 pages. (Publisher’s description)

Shonanto no Ramen, and Chang’an: Two books by Wena Poon

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.

Almost Rain: Poems

https://i0.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wEpWd951L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgby 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.

A Far Corner: Life and Art with the Open Circle Tribe

cover-Ezell-Far Cornerby 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.

Greater Tibet: An Examination of Borders, Ethnic Boundaries, and Communal Areas

https://i0.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41-Uy0UyIJL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgedited 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 from publisher’s description)

P. Christiaan Klieger is an American anthropologist and Tibetologist at the California Academy of Science in San Francisco.