My neighbor, Dave, gave me the copy of Immigrant Voices on New Year’s Day when we went to visit a friend in Sonoma. He had read “No Subject” by Carolina De Robertis to me the last time we drove out thatta way. I re-read that this week, and read “Home Safe” by Emma Ruby-Sachs. “No Subject” is about a father who denies his relationship with his daughter because she is a lesbian. The daughter sends an email with No Subject (but a paperclip) and the story relates to his experience receiving, opening and considering that email. I enjoyed this story a lot – highly recommend. “Home Safe” is a story about a couple, one member of which travels frequently to his family in a part of war-torn Beirut. He is encouraged to stay in chilly Vermont by his partner, but cannot imagine not traveling to his family – complicated feelings, lots of uncertainty and fear. His love of his homeland- the feeling of sand in the wind. A painful and powerful tale. Lastly, I read “The Science of Flight” by Yiyun Li. This story is about a Chinese immigrant – Zichen – who works as a lab tech in a mouse laboratory doing surgeries and things. She has two male co-workers that she interacts with who are wondering why she would want to travel to England since it is so gray there. Zichen’s ties to China are complicated – her mother abandoned her and she was raised by her grandmother, who worked as a hairdresser to take care of her granddaughter even though she was too old to be working. Zichen left for America, married for a green card and divorced quickly after that. She was not invited to her grandmother’s funeral. This complicated part of Zichen’s life is secret only to her. This story is so authentic and well written – I’d say definitely check it out.
I am still on my Rae Armantrout read-a-thon, and finished Veil this week, too. I think I gained some traction reading this and am starting to feel more comfortable with her style of writing. Some of my favorite poems were: “Tone”, “View”, “Sense”, “On Engines”, “The Creation”, “My Problem”, “Crossing”, “Story”, “Confidential”, “Writing” and “Counter”.
Here are a few to share with you:
Lastly, I read this Selected Poems by William Carlos Williams, which was very informative. I hadn’t read many of WCW’s longer poems, and this afforded me an opportunity to spend some time with a handful of his work all at once. What I noticed most is that he talks about yellow and sassafras quite often – he really enjoyed the color yellow in his writing. Maybe it’s especially noticeable to me since yellow is my favorite color- ever since I was a tiny kid. Some of his poems surprised me- especially one where writes as as a widow:
“The Last Words of my English Grandmother” is worth reading, too, though it’s a little long so I won’t post it here.
All in all, a good week! How do your pages turn, friends?
3 comments on “Week 2: Immigrant Voices, Veil & Selected Poems”
My pages are turning. My discs are sliding in and out of their plastic sleeves. Reports coming soonish.
Thank you for the poems. “Counter” is a mystery. WCW uses unreliable verb tenses in “The Widow’s Last Lament in Springtime,” no? This widow can’t manage time…or place, I think.
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I think you are right Teri – I wish I could ask wcw about this poem
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My pages are turning slowly but you have got my interest piqued here. Immigrant stories must be added to my tsundoku. As to WRITING, well, I am reading and rereading…
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