By Elinor Benedict
2000 Winner of the may possibly Swenson Poetry Award. Foreword via Maxine Kumin. even if the poems during this assortment will not be narrative, they do current a story, steadily unspooling the story of the poet's insurgent aunt, who left the relatives "to marry a Chinaman" within the 1930's. it truly is an previous tale, choked with poignancy, secret, family members delight, and doubt. whilst the aunt returns to die, the poet, now grown, discovers in herself the necessity to reclaim the connections that her family members had severed. She travels to China a number of times--to study. steadily, via wide-eyed, insightful poems, we see the poet rebuild along with her chinese language cousins a feeling of iteration, relations, and humanity--bridging over all that divides us.
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Additional resources for All That Divides Us: Poems (Swenson Poetry Award)
It’s simple enough to clean that stain, one of many. Others are not so easy.  HOW TO CHANGE A COUNTRY At the Peasant Movement Institute, Guangzhou The Belt How spare this place is: A monastery turned into cells for Mao’s early converts, learning how to change the country overnight, over months, over years, however long it took. Everything is in rows: Narrow beds, earthen bowls, tables of rough wood. Nothing is wasted, nothing says comfort. And in Mao’s own cell there is something else: a holster and cartridge belt, looking ready, hanging on a peg like a coat waiting for him to come back.
We ask our guide, Why don’t you let those people in? Mr. Wu adjusts his smile of uncommon charm and quotes the numbers, says so many feet would trample lovely teahouse ﬂat. We swallow hard, gaze at carvings above our heads, ask him something simpler. Why pagodas perched on hills? His airy answer: to offer ﬂying spirits a roosting place. Our tea begins to taste like weeds. We rise and gather souvenirs, avoid the stare of leather faces as we walk a thousand steps down Tiger Hill, where spirits hover, pilgrims keep on climbing, and we return to trampled earth.
Yuan scratches his head, declares, Gridlock! and smiles for the ﬁrst time. At the park Mr. Yuan makes a speech about Liberation, how before that day signs said, No Chinese and Dogs Allowed. He puts his palms together, offers: Birds of a feather ﬂock together? This time he doesn’t smile. We clear our throats, look out the window. Next he takes us to the section where he says beggars, opium addicts, prostitutes once crammed the streets like dead ﬁsh. Redlight district, he intones, waving to an empty plaza, now clean as whistle with communism.