sea * living * prayer * gratitude * light

What the Sea Earns 3

What the Sea Earns for a Living
Quaci Press 2014
published by Nicole Borello

Poetry Film based on the chapbook by Karen An-hwei Lee

“With a stunning and singular voice that gorgeously traverses the unique music of three languages—Spanish, English, and Nahuatl, What the Sea Earns for a Living is a buoyant book full of solitude and desire. These trembling and meticulous poems ask what secrets are tucked inside the shadows of orchards, and unveil what is carried on the Santa Ana winds. While it deftly walks the thin wire between the stark desert landscape and the vastness of the ocean, this book is ultimately ruled by a lush and vital voice that loves what is lost.”
~ Advance praise by Ada Limón, author of Sharks in the Rivers and Bright Dead Things

“The sea is not less beautiful in our eyes
because we know sometimes ships are wrecked by it.”
~ Simone Weil, Waiting for God


Praise: Thanks to Nicole Borello for her intrepid editorial vision, Lorena Borello at the University of San Francisco, and Anna Borello for x-rayed flowers in her beautiful cover design.  Muchisimas gracias to these inspiring women and especially to Ada Limón for sisterhood.

translation * diaspora

Angophone Literatures of the Asian Diaspora

My book was selected for publication by the Cambria World Sinophone Series. Professor Victor H. Mair (University of Pennsylvania) is Series Editor.

I express my gratitude to the editorial board:

•Ann Huss (Chinese University of Hong Kong)
•Xiaofei Kang (George Washington University)
•Jianmei Liu (University of Maryland)
•Haun Saussy (University of Chicago)
•Tansen Sen (Baruch College)
•Shu-mei Shih (UCLA)
•Jing Tsu (Yale University)
•David Der-wei Wang (Harvard University)

The Sinophone world refers to Sinitic-language cultures and communities born of colonial and postcolonial histories on the margins of geopolitical nation-states all across the world.

poetry * things

Interview for the Next Big Thing

Thanks to poet Anna Leahy, prize-winning author of Constituents of Matter, for the invitation!  Anna’s wonderful interview ~ astronauts included ~ is available here

What is your working title of your book (or story)?
A number of books are forthcoming from Tupelo, including a collection of poetry translations, Doubled Radiance: Poetry & Prose of Li Qingzhao. 

Where did the idea come from for the book?
In girlhood, I knew about the Tang Dynasty male poet Li Bai or Li Po, whose famous poem on moonlight I memorized and recited.  I was new to a woman poet named Li.  As I mentioned in my translator’s preface for Circumference, Li Qingzhao’s poetry first caught my eye when I saw her last name and mine were the same:  

What genre does your book fall under?
Doubled Radiance is classical Chinese poetry translated into modern English.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What an extraordinary question for a collection of poetry translations ~ I love this.  Let us see, now…. I was awed by Yoon Jeong-hee’s performance in the award-winning film, Poetry (2010), directed by Lee Chang-Dong.  I suppose Zhao Wei or Gong Li would play the young Li Qingzhao.  I would cast Yoon Jeong-hee for Li Qingzhao’s post-war years after the catastrophic fall of the northern capital. 

If the translator must take a role in this film, I would not play myself!  I am camera-shy and rather dislike having my photograph taken ~ acting on-screen, to this end, would be rather nightmarish.  A better thought ~ ask the poet-divas from Kundiman to consider any of the aforementioned roles on the silver screen.  As a matter of fact, I would favor active involvement by poets at all levels of acting, directing, and production.   

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Love, war, exile in the life of a Song Dynasty woman.   

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Translation is an arduous labor.  In other words, a long time ~ about one year, working weekly, to complete a draft, with a second year to fine-tune it.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A labor of love.  I was inspired by Dorothy Disse’s digital archive, Other Women’s Voices, housing translations of women’s writing before 1700.  Moreover, a desire to highlight another Asian woman’s work in the world, daring to reach across space and time to circulate her poetry ~ I’ve also translated poems by the contemporary Taiwanese woman poet, Hsia Yü, for Poetry Magazine.   Currently, I am studying the writings of Bing Xin for another translation project.  My time is so fragmentary in this season, however.  This task will be in the future.

Poet-divas (except Ollie, sole mister div-o) I “tagged” in turn: 
Eileen Tabios
Ellen Doré Watson
Oliver de la Paz


Christina Pugh, the Consulting Editor of Poetry Magazine, “tagged” me this week, as well! Read Christina’s lovely interview on Daniel Bosch’s blog, and her new collection, Grains of the Voice, from Northwestern University Press / TriQuarterly Books.  Not only is Christina’s poetry erudite & gorgeous, the poet herself shines w/ a heart of gold!

flor * de * jazmín

In the month of May, after Baccalaureate festivities are over, when I walk between our little chapel and one of our academic departments, hundreds of star-jasmines blooming along the walkway are, in a word, intoxicating. 

Peace: I am blessed to walk the long way around our little campus just to mingle with jasmine-soaked wind.  I think God is in the wind: the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Healing for a man’s eyes,  a woman who awaits birth (sent me a sonogram), and a woman who waits for a miracle.