Reviews

'playback on the rise'

The Señal chapbook series

US cultural diplomacy with Latin America seems a low priority under the current administration, and this makes me more grateful than ever for the Señal poetry chapbook series. These poems and their English translations engage questions about the intersections of Latin American and US history, culture, and language — implying that what is received in literature and culture bears examination.

'The protests became a poem'

Liu Waitong's 'Wandering Hong Kong with Spirits'

Photo of Hong Kong (right) via Wikimedia Commons.

What is it to be a Hong Kong poet writing now? Specifically, a Hong Kong poet who grew up over the border in Guangdong, who has lived also in Beijing; whose poems register the pull of other cities from Lhasa to Paris, and the pull of China not only as a literary inheritance all the way back to Zhuangzi, but also as a geopolitical giant changing daily even as Hong Kong itself changes? For Liu Waitong, it means to be accompanied always by ghosts. But it means also to seek them out and keep them company in turn — to haunt with them.

The hymn of journals, poetic and public

Right: East Village, NYC, via Seaotterpup on Wikimedia Commons.

With today’s ubiquitous social media and all that sharing entails, the idea of poetry that delves into the personal and utilizes actual journals would command an especially astute and unique precision — one that Stacy Szymaszek’s Journal of Ugly Sites & Other Journals deftly delivers, reminding us of the raw power of the poetic personal / personal poetic, and how uncommon poetry with this kind of depth is nowadays.

With today’s ubiquitous social media and all that sharing entails, the idea of poetry that delves into the personal and utilizes actual journals would command an especially astute and unique precision — one that Stacy Szymaszek’s Journal of Ugly Sites & Other Journals deftly delivers, reminding us of the raw power of the poetic personal / personal poetic, and how uncommon poetry with this kind of depth is nowadays.

'A ceiling other than a sky'

A review of Ashraf Fayadh's 'Instructions Within'

Photo of Ashraf Fayadh (right) via Instagram.

The outlines of Ashraf Fayadh’s life are clear enough: born in 1980 in Saudi Arabia to a Palestinian family, Fayadh published his book of poetry Instructions Within in Lebanon in 2008, was arrested in Abha, Saudi Arabia in August 2013, and was sentenced to death for renouncing Islam in November 2015.

Becoming in transit

Sun Yung Shin's 'Unbearable Splendor'

Photo of Sun Yung Shin (right) by Uche Iroegbu.

The term “uncanny valley” refers to the relationship between objects that appear human and the emotional responses they elicit, the degree of likeness of the former being traditionally assigned to the x-axis, while the y-axis describes the spectrum between repulsion and endearment.