Thursday, March 15, 2018

there are no foreigners

My latest book purchase arrived yesterday: Women: Poetry: Migration [An Anthology] ed. Jane Joritz-Nakagawa (theenk Books, 2017).  It's an anthology of contemporary (mostly experimental) poetry by women who live in a country different from the country of their birth. That might sound a complicated and even pointless criterion but (on the basis of barely an hour's reading)  the result is a book that is very easy to like, its swirlingly various poetic contents feeling a little more approachable because of the framework of converging preoccupations. (The miniature "essays" from each of the contributors are helpful too.) 

Here's a few words from the early pages.


From Jane Joritz-Nakagawa's Introduction:

... in Strangers to Ourselves (1991), Julia Kristeva wrote of "Our [human] disturbing otherness" but stated: "by recognizing our uncanny strangeness we shall neither suffer from it nor enjoy it from the outside. The foreigner is within me, hence we are all foreigners. If I am a foreigner, there are no foreigners" (p. 192). As a poet attempting to write an introduction to a poetry anthology of migrant women's work, I am also thinking of language itself as foreign. Japanese poet Kora Rumiko said in an interview that she "... felt even as a child that language was not mine, that I existed outside the language that surrounded me, like a foreigner.... " Here she is discussing her first language, Japanese, not a second or third one.


From Adeena Karasick's Salomé: Woman of Valor

And what shadowed abyss
of taut turns is riddled by the flux
          of campy anon

And what breathy mambo
of moaning nomads
is frothing in the foolscape of
your wet roulette?
What sluiced verity
What twangy biases
What cooing lurks in the sashay of racy traces


 From Amanda Ngoho Reavey's Marilyn

In the jungle there is a foreboding that surrounds a sentence. It lactates. It drowns.

They say that by the time a child is one year old her brain has been wired to know and understand only the phonemes of the language that surrounds her.

I spent eight years in speech therapy learning how English letters and words should be formed in my mouth...


From Andrea Brady's The Blue Split Compartments

This is the kill box, frozen into sculpture
at a value of some $10m.
And who hover over it are tempted to wonder

where the 'art' went or where the 'work' went
looking for their circus face in the bottom,
or the secret of its underside, where it makes contact
with the gallery floor,
but it says nothing other than 'construction'. It really is
like swatting flies; we can do it forever
easily and you feel nothing.


[JJ-N: born in USA, lives in Japan. AK: born in Canada, of Russian-Jewish heritage; lives in USA. ANR: born in Philippines, lives in USA. AB: born in USA, lives in UK.]


The jacket artwork is by Steven Seidenberg, photographer painter and poet.

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