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Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393332384
ISBN-10: 0393332381
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This ambitious yet accessible gathering of hundreds of poets from various parts of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, America and elsewhere is likely to excite poetry fans as well as those new to poetry. Seeking a response to 9/11, the three editors, who are poets and teachers of Asian-American descent, hoped to share an alternate vision of the new century in which words, not weapons, could define our civilization. Divided into nine idiosyncratic sections—with titles like Bowl of Air and Shivers that cover topics including Eros and the meeting of the political and the personal—the book is more an esoteric journey than a systematic reference. Readers may recognize the names of major international figures (Nazim Hikmet, Taha Muhammad Ali) and famous American writers (Michael Ondaatje, Li-Young Lee), who may draw attention to many writers unknown in the U.S., such as Hsien Min Toh of Singapore, who, upon seeing sport hunters shooting crows, awakens to an all-too-familiar ambivalence about my unkind nation, in whose name only I will be/ able to walk up the lane with lowered head. While the book's sheer size can be overwhelming, it is packed with treasures. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

This monumental thematic anthology is like a crowded party of exceptionally brilliant people. At the end, you are dazed and dazzled, and everyone seems to run together in memory: the Chinese man who writes in his native ethnic tongue, the exiled Tibetan who lives in San Francisco, the persecuted Bangladeshi feminist, the emigrant from Turkmenistan who is now a prominent Swedish poet. Even a diligent reader of contemporary poetry will leave this gathering feeling humbled by ignorance of the immense poetic energy of what used to be called the East. The breadth of its sweep is both the anthology’s strength and its weakness, for hundreds of poets are represented by single poems. What the poems share is an almost aggressive modernity, for the poets are as easy in airports as in souks, as familiar with the Internet as with ancient myths, as conversant with subaltern theory as with the smell of mangoes in a bazaar. They share, too, a political consciousness and conscience, making this as impressive a collection of poets of witness as has ever been assembled. --Patricia Monaghan
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393332381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393332384
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #625,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Dr. Joseph S. Maresca HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
The presentation gives a fairly complete rendition
of poetry from the Middle East and Asia. Renditions
from Azerbaijan, Turkey, India, Iran, Japan,
Palestine and Iceland are provided for the readers'
enjoyment. Tidbits of typical poems are provided
together with the applicable authors. i.e.

Jennifer Dobbys-Elesy wrote "Pure Music" which contains
the following passage:

" Child among night flowers , opening their dark eyes
to the moon , "

Hamid Ismailov wrote "The Shaping Clay" containing the
following passage:

"Crack open your door, silence to the murmurs of a
cottage under the cradle of the sleeping clay."

Kyimay Kaung wrote "Eskimo Paradise" containing the
following passage:

" Eskimo paradise is warm paradise of Bedouins cold-
my paradise. "
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Format: Paperback
In this age of information, poetry is perhaps the most efficient method of expressing grand concepts. Language for a New Century, a collection of contemporary poetry from the Middle East, Asia (including parts of North and East Africa) and its Diaspora, contains one poetic masterpiece after another. Complete with humor, love, anger, despair, confusion, contempt, sadness and joy, the poems open a window into the experience of the world's most populous continent. Lovingly compiled by its editors, who are towering artists in their own right, this collection of 400 voices from the "East" is the culmination of six years of research and collaboration with thousands of people in the 55 countries from which the works are drawn.

The poems were carefully translated from their 40 original languages into English--many for the first time--by expert regional artists who have succeeded in expressing concepts and ideas often difficult to convey. The poems contained in this massive volume represent some of the best in their modern craft, and stand in stark contrast to the disposable monotony we slog through in our daily search for truth. Evocative and provocative, familiar and shocking, the poets pose questions more often than they make pronouncements. Eliciting thought and reflection, they challenge the consumer of "information" to instead become an information producer.

Arranged around nine themes related to the human experience, the structure of the book itself combats Orientalism with humanity. It defies borders, many artificial, many imposed, reconnecting regions in a continent where, prior to Western imperialism, war and the modern nation state, identities, ideas and people interacted more fluidly.
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I'm loving this journey through poetry I've never encountered before. It's a refreshing break from the old guard of Tennyson, Poe, and Shakespeare and the like... If you're looking to broaden your horizons through the poetic form, here's your chance.
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Format: Paperback
I am one of the contributors, with 2 poems in the Collection, so I cannot rightfully write a review, but I loved all the poems here. They are well arranged in groups from the personal to the political.

I had a good experience working with editor Tina Chang over a couple of years, all by email.

Thank you.
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Definitely a "must own" for any poet's, educator's, or student's bookshelf. Refreshing to read, chock-full of necessary and relevant voices, "Language For A New Century" is the most important anthology of our age. The ultimate source for a generation of voices, this carefully collected volume emphasizes the human experience and attempts to break down the barriers that have up to this point defined and claimed us. I love that rather than being divided into countries, or regions, the book is divided into life's regions - childhood, identity, politics, the erotic, etc., and this further pronounces the effervescent transcendence our own utterances desire to proclaim.
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