Reviews - September 2013

'I'-criticism in postliterary America

In this timely and temperamental critical performance, Maria Damon celebrates our brave new postliterary world as a thing of the past. Before neighborhood slam and Flarf spam — the “diaspora poeses” of contemporary America, treated in the second half of this essay collection — there was a beat culture in postwar San Francisco that did more than Howl. In the “shadowland,” beyond the floodlight of Allen Ginsberg’s expressive iconicity, jazz, poetry, and performance communities thrived in a tenuous relation to the literary.

Steven G. Yao's flexible methodologies

Steven G. Yao’s Foreign Accents begins with a humorous account of Maxine Hong Kingston’s 2002 declaration, “I want the life of the Poet … I want the easiness of Poetry” (3). Although Kingston’s statement may seem a bit naïve, Yao explains that it nevertheless marks a significant turning point in Asian American literature and Asian American studies: Kingston’s turn to poetry sanctions a similar turn for readers and writers of Asian American literature alike (4).

Release we can invent together

A review of Feng Sun Chen's 'Butcher's Tree'

“The person I love should love me so much she wants to eat me alive. If I’m going to die this is how it should be,” a writer once told me. I didn’t know what this writer meant until I read Feng Sun Chen’s Butcher’s Tree. This poetry collection wants to plunge itself into your guts and nest there. It wants to engage in corporeal, spiritual, and emotional cannibalism. It is the blood dripping down your chin. It offers you not a napkin but a compact mirror in the shape of a napkin. Butcher’s Tree enacts a poetics of confrontation and entanglement with unlikely pairings: intangible and material, stasis and movement, mythic and mortal. These collisions swerve into collusion.