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.
the young men died
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.
edited 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.
by Richard Harrison
Wolsak & Wynn Publishers, 2016
In 2013, Richard Harrison feared that his father’s ashes were lost in the flood that had devastated Alberta.
Using elements of memoir, elegy, lyrical essay, and personal correspondence, as well as showing his appreciation for haiku and comic books, Harrison has written a book of mourning for his father. Despite dementia, Harrison’s father died without forgetting the poems that he had memorized as a student and taught his son. (Adapted from publisher’s description)
A Canadian writer and professor at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, Harrison is the author of seven books of poetry, including Big Breath of a Wish, a volume about his daughter’s acquisition of language, and Hero of the Play, the first collection of poetry launched at the Hockey Hall of Fame. His poetry has been translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic.
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, an 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.
by Norma Farber
El León Literary Arts, 2012
Year of Reversible Loss is a 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, at once keenly personal and transcendent.
Sign your name on the wind.
Then I’ll know which way
to follow you.
Reviewed by Lillian Howan, author of The Charm Buyers.
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)
by Jee Leong Koh
Carcanet Press, 2015
Steep Tea is Singapore-born Jee Leong Koh’s fifth collection and the first to be published in the UK. Koh’s poems express many of the harsh and enriching circumstances of a postcolonial queer writer, in a voice both colloquial and musical. Like the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, Eavan Boland and Lee Tzu Pheng, Koh’s writing is forged in the pleasures of reading, cultures and communities. (Adapted from publisher’s description)
“Here are short, deft narratives that map the mismatched patterns of male and female desire grounded in partial understandings of love. The author’s native Singapore sounds out sharply, often ironically, in counterpoint to the intimate domestic interiors that help to constitute what will surely be recognized as some of contemporary poetry’s classic love poems.” -David Kinloch
Jee Leong Koh was born and raised in Singapore and moved to New York in 2003. He has a BA in English from Oxford University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. He is the curator of the website Singapore Poetry and the cochair of the inaugural Singapore Literature Festival in New York City. He lives in New York City.