Saturday, July 20, 2013
New Review of The Strangest of Theatres in the Chicago Tribune
What fun to wake up to a review of The Strangest of Theatres edited by Jared Hawkley, Brian Turner, and me. Better yet to see that Elizabeth Granger had featured women writers in her piece including a focus on the essays by Carolyn Forche, Jane Hirshfield, and me. It is no small joy to be included in a line-up with poets I admire so deeply and who have been profound influences on my writing. I am really honored.
You can read the full review in the Chicago Tribune right here. In the meantime here is a brief excerpt:
At its strongest, the work probes identity — what it means to be other, in flux, cross-pollinating. In her essay on translation, Jane Hirshfield examines the initial skepticism and later acceptance of intercultural appropriation, by which "certain exotic trees have come to be treasured in their new countries." Although "(m)istrust of translation is part of the immune reaction by which every community attempts to preserve its particular heritage and flavor," Hirshfield asks, "what English speaker today would call iambic pentameter an imported meter, or think of the sonnet as an Italian form?"
Carolyn Forché explains how she learned to manipulate her identity. She and her husband, a journalist, roamed South Africa in order to document apartheid. "Officially, my husband would work at the Time bureau, and I would accompany him as wife and expectant mother," she writes with the wry confidence of a woman underestimated. Eventually Forché learned that her pregnancy eased the couple's passage through the country's roadblocks: "(A)s my womb swelled, I also grew invisible, no longer attracting police who would not wish to involve themselves with so pregnant a white woman."
Another writer struggles with the patronship that power earned her abroad. On her Fulbright year in South Africa, Susan Rich "carried with [her] a basket of ever-shifting questions." In her discussion of whether to hire servants, Rich wonders: