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.

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)

Woman of March: Poems

TSUMURA-YUMIKO

by Yumiko Tsumura
Finishing Line Press, 2016

Woman of March gives us a glimpse of Yumiko Tsumura’s childhood Pacific War memories of Japan as well as her life in the US, rich with intimate perceptions, invested with transformative powers, and depicting a life path of discoveries, losses, and reaffirmations. Her power of observation is clearly seen through her  precision in these autobiographical poems.

Today again
the young men died
believing in
mountain climbing

Tsumura’s poems are not haiku but haiku-like, emerging as epiphanies upon white paper. They are a testimony to a life lived in specific, deep consciousness. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Yumiko Tsumura was born and educated in Japan and has an MFA in poetry and translation from the University of Iowa. She has taught at universities both in Japan and the US.  Her books of translation include Kazuko Shiraishi’s poetry collections from New Directions.

Inheriting the War: Poetry and Prose by Descendants of Vietnam Veterans and Refugees

980bc04e50f7eba0586b67f750fe2c01edited Laren McClung
foreword by Yusef Komunyakaa
W.W. Norton & Company, 2018

Inheriting the War: Poetry and Prose by Descendants of Vietnam Veterans and Refugees answers questions that have remained unanswered for over fifty years: what is the difference between history and the past, how do people come to terms to what they have inherited, who is given a voice and who remains silent, and what resolutions result from examining the past. This anthology by descendants of Vietnam veterans and refugees―American, Vietnamese, Vietnamese Diaspora, Hmong, Australian, and others―confronts war and its aftermath. It is an affecting portrait of the effects of war and family―an intercultural, generational dialogue on silence, memory, landscape, imagination, Agent Orange, displacement, postwar trauma, and the severe realities that are carried home.

While Inheriting the War depicts the burdens of the war, and refuses to deny brutal realities, it presents literature that unifies. It crosses cultural and generational boundaries, and connects veterans, writers, and readers. (Adapted from publisher’s description and press release)

Laren McClung teaches at New York University, and is a poet and the author of Between Here and Monkey Mountain. Her father served one tour in Vietnam (1968-1969) deployed with the 173rd Airborne. Her poetry has appeared in several journals and reviews, and she has been the recipient of a Teachers & Writers Collaborative Van Lier Fellowship, an Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran Workshop Teaching Fellowship, and has led workshops in poetry at Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island in the Creative Writing Program at New York University.

Old Demons, New Deities

Dickie_OldDemonsNewDeities

edited by Tenzin Dickie
OR Books, New York and London, 2017

Old Demons, New Deities is the first anthology of contemporary Tibetan fiction available in English. Though Tibetan literature dates back millennia, its modern form is under forty years old. It began in 1980 and 1981 with literary journals, Tibetan Art and Literature and Light Rain.

In this book, readers will get an authentic look at the the lives of Tibetans in various settings such as the Himalayas, India, and New York, as they understand the relationships between tradition and modernity, occupation and exile, and the personal and the national. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Tenzin Dickie is a writer and literary translator living in New York. Her writings have been published in Indian Literature, Apogee Journal, Tibetan Review, Himal SouthAsian, and Cultural Anthropology, and anthologized in The Yellow Nib: Modern English Poetry by Indians from The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry and The Tibet Reader, forthcoming from the Duke University Press. Her translations have been published in The Washington Post online and Modern Poetry in Translation. She is an editor at treasuryoflives.org, a biographical encyclopedia of significant figures from Tibet, Inner Asia, and the Himalayan Region.

 

Meeting with My Brother: A Novella

MeetingWithMyBrother

by Yi Mun-Yol
Translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl with Yoosup Chang
Columbia University Press, 2017

Meeting with My Brother is narrated by Professor Yi, a South Korean who lived under suspicion for many years as the son of a traitor. At the start of the Korean War, Yi’s father had defected to the North. Many years later, Yi made plans to meet his father, but before this could happen, his father died.

Later, Yi learns of the existence of a half-brother and contacts him. Though carefully arranged, their encounter takes an unexpected turn.

Meeting with My Brother provides readers with insights into the complex perspectives of a divided Korea and explores the difficulties of both a political and personal reunification. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Yi Mun-yol is one of the most prominent and socially significant literary figures of post–1980s Korea.

Heinz Insu Fenkl is an associate professor of English and Asian studies at SUNY New Paltz.