All That Divides Us: Poems (Swenson Poetry Award) by Elinor Benedict

By Elinor Benedict

2000 Winner of the might Swenson Poetry Award. Foreword via Maxine Kumin. even if the poems during this assortment will not be narrative, they do current a story, progressively unspooling the story of the poet's insurgent aunt, who left the kin "to marry a Chinaman" within the 1930's. it truly is an outdated tale, choked with poignancy, secret, kinfolk satisfaction, and doubt. while the aunt returns to die, the poet, now grown, discovers in herself the necessity to reclaim the connections that her kinfolk had severed. She travels to China numerous times--to examine. progressively, via wide-eyed, insightful poems, we see the poet rebuild along with her chinese language cousins a feeling of new release, kinfolk, and humanity--bridging over all that divides us.

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Extra resources for All That Divides Us: Poems (Swenson Poetry Award)

Example text

One small woman shuffles up to me and points out her painting above us, a blood-red peony. She tells me she speaks a little English. I look for a suitable question to give her. ” She bows her head as if receiving a blessing, answers, “For China throughout seven provinces I designed railroad stations. ” The Wild Dinner Chinese city dwellers call far-out Guilin wilderness. Ancient poets and painters grew blissful over its sugarloaf peaks, clouded shrines, criss-cross thickets of pine and bamboo that fueled the mists of their minds.

But later, on the way back to the hotel, as the darkened bus rocks us to sleep, a quavering tenor rises against silence. This is no brazen shriek of Chinese opera. It’s a child lost. An animal snared. We clutch our sweaters around us. After the wail subsides, Mr. ” In our light applause I seem to hear the sound of water lapping against the sides of our bus, a boat full of strangers, pulling away from shore. [33] S Y LV I A P L AT H I N C H I N A How did you get here, big blonde with x-ray eyes?

Take this scroll, for example, with cragged mountains, lone monk by a cave. Observe the wet pines, raven in mist, waterfalls lighting the monk’s smile. A courtier imagined this wilderness among tassels and brocade. Did either painter or painted hear the muffled weeping in the narrow passageways that twisted into the city’s heart? [44] F U L L M O O N H A R V E S T F E S T I VA L AT T H E S PA C I T Y In the restaurant and all over China tonight there are millions of mooncakes, flat and round, white with mysterious dark centers.

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