Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Few More Thoughts on Asian-American Poetry (What Else is New?)

Poets Bryan Thao Worra and Barbara Jane Reyes have made great posts on Asian-American poetry, and I would encourage you to check them out. I just have a few quick, general thoughts to add:

1. Asian-American poetry, of course, has a past. But it also has a terrific present and future, which look brighter than ever.

2. I second Pam and Bryan's remarks that Li-Young Lee has an indefinable "presence" that makes him a figure of interest for most people who have come across him in person. I would also add that Li-Young Lee deserves a lot of credit for that. It's primarily what he says and how he interacts with people that makes him so interesting and compelling, along with the fact that he is very generous with his time and energy.

3. I share Barbara Jane's concern over the equation, "Li-Young Lee = Asian-American Poetry." I think that Li-Young Lee himself would not want that to happen. I also concur that other Asian-American poets should have a greater share of the "Asian-American poetry" spotlight, so to speak.

4. There is a need for more Asian-American literary publications. Ironically, at at time when more Asian-American poets than ever are writing and getting published, there may be fewer Asian-American literary publications out there than at any point in the past decade.

5. Both Eileen Tabios and Bryan have mentioned this book, and I want to highlight it here: David Mura's Song for Uncle Tom, Tonto & Mr. Moto: Poetry & Identity (University of Michigan Press, Poets on Poetry series, 2002). Like Breaking the Alabaster Jar, it contains interviews and perspectives on poetry by the poet (the poet being David Mura here).


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