In Koon Woon’s Water Chasing Water (Kaya Press 2013), a river appears in one poem and flows into the next, appearing there as rain, turning up in one place as an ocean and in yet another as a damp and soggy sadness. I was immediately reminded of lê thi diem thúy’s The Gangster We Are All Looking For, and there on thúy’s first page: “Ba and I were connected to the four uncles, not by blood but by water” (3).
Woon’s text gestures toward the meanings of water—as life-giving force, as connective tissue, as that which carries us. lê thi diem thúy explains that “In Vietnamese, the word forwater and the word for a nation, a country, and a homelandare one and the same: nu’ó’c.” In Thai, the word for river (แม่น้ำ) is made up of the word for mother (แม่) and the word for water (น้ำ). For the diasporic fish/ghost/dish-washer in Woon’s poems, water connects places to other places, traveling from person to person and washing up memories and other debris. [...]
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“At The Lantern Review, Jai Arun Ravine, who previously reviewed [Kim Gek Lin] Short’s The Bugging Watch and Other Exhibits, proves once again that any review written by Ravine (author of แล้ว and then entwine (Tinfish Press)) is a text worth reading, independent of its subject…” // Thanks to Tarpaulin Sky Press for kindly profiling my review of Short’s CHINA COWBOY, winner of a Blurbie Award for “Slimmest Monster” from the California Journal of Poetics.
LIVE AT LANTERN REVIEW // Gross and gorgeous about sums up the Kansas City karaoke nightclub and TECHNICOLOR cinema that is Kim Gek Lin Short’s China Cowboy—all “gorge,” gore and zero pretty. Short’s work is often grossly disturbing and excruciatingly seductive, catching the reader in a tense push and pull with and against the text. Sticky and stuck among the fucking and fucked-up, Short binds us within tales of fierce femme survival as her main character, the feisty and fisty La La, avenges the repeated death of Hollywood’s “dragon lady” with her boots, her mic, and her “country superstar humility.” // READ ON AT LANTERN REVIEW
What is HEATH? // Read my review of Tan Lin’s HEATH COURSE PAK at Lantern Review. // Like following Heath Ledger’s death over the internet—through the rapid replication of speculative information, quotations, paraphrased material, tags and images as they unravel, reproduce and become felt by a social network—Lin’s assemblage of HEATH is a kind of muscle memory for feelings that are erased, re-written, read, scanned and searched repeatedly within a complex system of users, readers, commentators, followers, friends and authors. // Read more at Lantern Review —>
Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut’s Magnetic Refrain will be published by Kaya Press in 2013. Read my review at LANTERN REVIEW —> // In Magnetic Refrain, transnational Korean American adoptee Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut speaks through folktales and fox-demons, inflatable dolls and war brides, defectors seeking asylum and mothers separated from their children by adoption and military partition, to explore the magnetism of twinning, the conjunction of self and other, and the continued return to the loss of never knowing. // READ MORE AT LANTERN REVIEW —>
I met up with Barbara Jane Reyes at Shooting Star Cafe in Oakland Chinatown to chat about her new chapbook For The City That Nearly Broke Me. The project started with a writing prompt: write about a city that saved you, then write about a city that broke you. As Barbara began to think about what it would mean “to be broken by a city,” she decided to approach it by writing about places that “were the most emotionally complicated for me.” The chapbook hovers over and between Manila (“my birthplace but not necessarily my home”) and Oakland, where she has been living for the past decade but is not sure she can claim as her own. —> READ MORE AT LANTERN REVIEW!
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“Enjoy the silence!” is Timothy Yu’s inscription to me in my copy of 15 Chinese Silences. And I do, as someone rather obsessed with (and who is a product of) cultural silences and silencing. But what I enjoy about this project even more is its parody, and the ways it makes absurd the poetic ethos of Billy Collins by outing his racism and his incurable Asian fetish. —> READ MORE AT LANTERN REVIEW!
Sueyeun Juliette Lee titles the first section of Underground National with an answer that inverts, re-contextualizes and re-defines the Double Jeopardy question: “Korea, What is.” Each page flips like one of Alex Trebek’s blue television screens, revealing answers in the form of satellite images, sound bytes and “ShareThis RSS.” “An impossibility” for 200 may be Lee’s first category and line, but the multiple stains, burials and explosions that gather resonance and color locate a nation—a nationalism—in jeopardy. ***Read the rest at Lantern Review***
I love Michelle Naka Pierce’s Continuous Frieze Bordering Red. I live inside this book.
///Continuous Frieze Bordering Red succeeds because it takes a two-dimensional visual catalyst (Rothko’s murals) and concentrates on the spatial quality and physicality of the brushstroke, as well as the ways in which the canvases install themselves in a room. It uses this knowledge as a framework for imagining the entrapped/migratory location of the hybrid/mixed race body as it exists in an ever-increasingly benign/brutal police state and allegedly “post-racial” landscape.///
Live at Lantern Review <<< Tan Lin’s Insomnia and the Aunt glows neon yellow—like hilighters, French fries, hot mustard packets from Panda Express, or a Waffle House of scallion pancake-flavored commercial. In this remote control scrapbook Lin grieves the death of his estranged, mixed race aunt, who owned a motel in the middle of nowhere and watched a lot of TV. Tucked among postcards, a photograph of Ronald Reagan bottle-feeding a chimpanzee and footnoted Google reverse searches, Lin tries to extract ghosts from cached pages and remember his aunt’s eyes in the white noise and signal snow of “the Asian American immigrant experience,” which is really just America being watched on TV. >>> Read more at Lantern Review.
My review of Bhanu Kapil’s Schizophrene is live at Lantern Review. Schizophrenia, im/migration and the texture of fragmentation.
My review of Jenny Boully’s not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them is live at Lantern Review! Jenny Boully and I share Thai mothers and the same alma mater. I am thrilled and honored to engage this fierce-weird feminist remix of Peter Pan–you’re going to want to read this book! Thanks to editor Iris Law and the folks at Tarpaulin Sky Press!