By Elinor Benedict

ISBN-10: 0874212952

ISBN-13: 9780874212952

ISBN-10: 0874213339

ISBN-13: 9780874213331

2000 Winner of the may perhaps Swenson Poetry Award. Foreword via Maxine Kumin. even supposing the poems during this assortment should not narrative, they do current a story, steadily unspooling the story of the poet's insurgent aunt, who left the relatives "to marry a Chinaman" within the 1930's. it really is an previous tale, jam-packed with poignancy, secret, relatives delight, and doubt. whilst the aunt returns to die, the poet, now grown, discovers in herself the necessity to reclaim the connections that her kin had severed. She travels to China numerous times--to research. steadily, via wide-eyed, insightful poems, we see the poet rebuild together with her chinese language cousins a feeling of new release, kinfolk, and humanity--bridging over all that divides us.

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Example text

I see [23] my cousin beside the strange beast, his twin, wincing in the glare; and afterward, his face reflected in the train window as he returns to his old city, his skin pale, his lids closed. Now both of us see double under a single sun, our eyes full and burning. [24] STORY TELLER for William Weihan Liu It’s your story, cousin, but I’ve stolen it. Like a magpie I’ve snatched pieces of your life to weave a coat for myself, more colorful than a wise father would have given, something I made and called my own.

Hers is smooth, blue as milk; mine crinkled, scalded cream. We try not to cough or sway the ancient mattress. But I want to tell her how this dark [19] hotel’s a buried city of women like us. In this room we meet and part from our mothers, children, lovers, breath. This bed swings like a bridge over all that divides us. [20] T H E G U E S T C H A I R AT N A N K A I UNIVERSIT Y First we dine on carp, sweet and sour. After the prized fish, the old chairman slurps his soup. Hunched like a holy man, he never looks up from his bowl.

What is the link between art and cruelty? Here are the makings of war, slavery, and notions of beauty that crushed girls’ feet into pairs of dead lilies. See how exquisite the small shoes. Like you, I could rave about loveliness but instead I ask myself where goodness and justice fit in. You’d touch a finger to my mouth and chide, Don’t ask. Let civilization make beauty without judgment . . Take this scroll, for example, with cragged mountains, lone monk by a cave. Observe the wet pines, raven in mist, waterfalls lighting the monk’s smile.

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All That Divides Us: Poems (Swenson Poetry Award) by Elinor Benedict


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