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The Open Boat Paperback – January 1, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston (whose mediocre poems are included here) have garnered attention for fiction, Asian-American poetry seems to have been neglected in the wider multicultural renaissance. It's a small wonder, when the most recognizable poets--Ai, John Yau, Jessica Hagedorn--write poems in which ethnicity plays a minor role. Even Lawson Fusao Inada (who has drawn imagery from the Japanese detention camps) is represented by two poems about jazz. The best insights into the Asian-American experience come from lesser-known writers: in a stunning image, Amy Uyematsu compares a small woman with a "shopping cart of used cans and rags" to "the Vietnamese grandmothers / I've seen so often in photographs"; Li-Young Lee writes a masterful meditation on the ducks hanging in the Chinese butcher shop's window; Russell Leong's series of "Aerogrammes" from relatives back in China captures the relationship between old world and new with sensitivity and humor. Even writers who yearn for customs they never inherited display surprisingly little anger or bitterness, quite possibly a factor in the relative obscurity of their work. Hongo ( Yellow Light ) provides a welcome introduction.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

With this collection, Hongo hopes to expand the definition of Asian American poetry as well as its audience. His intelligent introduction condemns those who would apply "a litmus test of ethnic authenticity" to writing, as well as those who insist upon the "macho" camp of ethnic warrior poets. The styles of the 31 poets included range from confessional to surreal. Many were born and attended writing programs in this country, and some will be familiar to poetry readers (e.g., Ai, Cathy Song, Li-Young Li, John Yau, and David Mura). For good reasons, these poets are compulsive storytellers, driven to explain their backgrounds and contexts to a non-Asian audience. Beyond bitterness and cultural ambivalence, the best of these poems share a profound humor that emanates from the absurdity of cultural and temporal juxtapositions. Highly recommended.
- Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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