Editorial note: The following is a transcript of a conversation between two artist-poets on their recent publications. Jai Arun Ravine, director of the short film Tom/Trans/Thai and author of The Romance of Siam: a Pocket Guide as well as แล้ว and then entwine: lesson plans, poems, knots, specializes in genres of blended identity, gender, and race. Currently based in Philadelphia, they take the time to sit down and discuss the themes of orientalism, colonialism, and tourism prevalent in their work.
There is a large shelf in the poetry section of Powell’s Used Book Warehouse in Portland, Oregon that is weighed down exclusively by versions of Edward FitzGerald’s illustrious and legendarily loose translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. It is perhaps the destiny of only the greatest poems to become furniture, decorative shelf-filler, markers of conformity masquerading as taste. Ultimately, unread. Just as easily do these all-too-willingly adopted artifacts start to become emblems of an embarrassing past, haunting “used” stores with their overabundance like copies of Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream and Other Delights.