Two Menus

University of Chicago Press
  • erscheint ca. am 20. März 2020
  • Buch
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  • Hardcover
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  • 88 Seiten
978-0-226-68217-4 (ISBN)
There are two menus in a Beijing restaurant, Rachel DeWoskin writes in the title poem, "the first of excess, / second, scarcity." DeWoskin invites us into moments shaped by dualities, into spaces bordered by the language of her family (English) and that of her new country (Chinese), as well as the liminal spaces between youth and adulthood, safety and danger, humor and sorrow. This collection works by building and demolishing boundaries and binaries, sliding between their edges in movements that take us from the familiar to the strange and put us face-to-face with our assumptions and confusions. Through these complex and interwoven poems, we see how a self is never singular. Rather, it is made up of shifting--and sometimes colliding--parts. DeWoskin crosses back and forth, across languages and nations, between the divided parts in each of us, tracing overlaps and divergences. The limits and triumphs of translation, the slipperiness of relationships, and movements through land and language rise and fall together.

The poems in Two Menus offer insights into the layers of what it means to be human, to reconcile living as multiple selves. DeWoskin dives into the uncertain spaces, showing us how a life lived between walls is murky, strange, and immensely human. These poems ask us how to communicate across the boundaries that threaten to divide us, to measure and close the distance between who we are, were, and want to be.
  • Englisch
  • Chicago, IL
  • |
  • USA
The University of Chicago Press
  • Fadenheftung
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  • Gewebe-Einband
  • Höhe: 229 mm
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  • Breite: 152 mm
978-0-226-68217-4 (9780226682174)
"'The restaurant in Beijing called Bitterness / and Happiness has two menus, ' recalls the insatiable speaker of this bountiful debut. Combining a novelist's narrative command with a poet's faith in the mystical felicities of rhyme, DeWoskin chronicles a life lived in voracious pursuit of all aspects of earthly experience. Whether rock climbing in China, river rafting in California, nursing her child, grieving another's child, visiting a family member in prison, or a dying friend in the hospital, she savors the living pith of each passing moment, and transmutes it into nourishing song. 'Here's how / we stay human even torched by sorrow, ' she writes, singing down mortal dread. 'Spackled, rageful, wracked, we sparkle.'"--Suzanne Bauffam, author of A Pillow Book "DeWoskin's spectacular debut Two Menus offers us a lyrical banquet of tempting contradiction. In the title poem, we learn of "[t]he restaurant in Beijing called Bitterness / and Happiness", which has "two menus: the first of excess, / second, scarcity." Through DeWoskin's own uncanny language, both larger-than-life and daringly precise, we read to rediscover the boundaries that both divide and join our worlds: us/them, love/disgust, safety/danger, sanity/madness, language/silence. How can one life be expected to take in all that there is before us? How can it all make sense? And yet, with lucid description, and with abiding love and wit, each poem in this audacious book asks for more--even when it hurts."--Frederick Speers, author of So Far Afield "Smart, fierce and formally brilliant, the poems in Two Menus are wonderfully energetic and alive. Spinning between love and loss, childhood and womanhood, Chinese and English, DeWoskin creates a blaze of language that stuns with precision, wisdom and joy."--Kirun Kapur, author of Visiting Indira Gandhi's Palmist "DeWoskin takes us from grief to romance in Two Menus, a debut of stunning clarity and formal dexterity. The subtleties of this book are balanced by the world each poem means to hold. DeWoskin is a poet of things, of the image, and of the narratives that attention to image allows. This is a beautiful book."--Jericho Brown, author of The Tradition

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