Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Paisley Rekdal & not fitting in

This Poetry Month's poet of the week is Paisley Rekdal. Rekdal is an Associate Professor at the University of Utah. But it's her book of essays that first drew my attention. While living in the Pioneer Valley, I saw her book of essays in my favorite South Hadley independent bookshop, The Odyssey Bookshop. Here's the cover:

The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee: Observations on Not Fitting In is a great collection of Rekdal's non-fiction. In particular, for those of you looking for a mixed-race writer, Rekdal writes honestly and introspectively about her bi-racial, bi-cultural experiences, both in various Asian countries (she's done a fair amount of sojourning to places like Taiwan, China, the Phillipines, and South Korea). But whether you identify as mixed-race or not, most of us can relate to the idea of "not fitting in"--although I suppose some of us my identify with that phrase more than others (esp. depending on the context/region of where we are).

In addition to being a wonderful prose writer, Rekdal is also an accomplished poet--her latest collection, The Invention of the Kaleidoscope (2007) is a testament to that. And here's a selection, "Bats" from her latest book:

by Paisley Rekdal

unveil themselves in dark.
They hang, each a jagged,

silken sleeve, from moonlit rafters bright
as polished knives. They swim

the muddled air and keen
like supersonic babies, the sound

we imagine empty wombs might make
in women who can’t fill them up.

A clasp, a scratch, a sigh.
They drink fruit dry.

And wheel, against feverish light flung hard
upon their faces,

in circles that nauseate.
Imagine one at breast or neck,

Patterning a name in driblets of iodine
that spatter your skin stars.

They flutter, shake like mystics.
They materialize. Revelatory

as a stranger’s underthings found tossed
upon the marital bed, you tremble

even at the thought. Asleep,
you tear your fingers

and search the sheets all night.


Cipher said...

can you cross-post this to asianamlitfans?

Jennifer said...

Done! And I threw in the Vikram Seth one for good measure!

Cipher said...

you are the awesomeness!