Books that arrived in the mail
E San Juan Jr's Sutrang Kayumanggi and Balikbayang Mahal: Passages from Exile
The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries edited by Reginald Shepherd
From a secondhand bookstore
Selected Poems by Octavio Paz
Oedipal Dreams by Evelyn Lau
(+ 2 fiction books)
Still waiting for
Returning a Borrowed Tongue
The Craft of Poetry: Interviews from New York
Yes, I know, it's an addiction.
I admire ESJ for his prolific and expansive cultural work, and I admire his skill at mixing traditional Tagalog lyricism with contemporary events, but it's too political for my tastes, especially when he name-drops activists who haven't crossed my radar at all. He did write about a former professor of mine, who had passed away. I bought the books because I felt like I needed models for more contemporary Tagalog writing, but I'm not sure how helpful they will be. There are some poems that I liked, though. And I love that he writes translations in English, and that I can see both versions and appreciate the nuances lost and retained.
The Iowa book is great. Some familiar names that I encountered in that Verse Book of Interviews. Lots of beautiful and difficult poems. Challenging forms, syntactical rebellions, and a really varied offering of what is termed "hybrid" poetry, I guess. Still not sure how they manage it, but between this and (still) reading a sci fi book, I got inspired to write a couple of drafts that experiment with form.
Haven't really gone through the Paz and the Lau volumes, except to say that Paz' expansive forms may have seeped into what I was writing as well.