October 26, 2014

sea * living

Posted in Poetry & Life at 2:52 am by karenanhweilee

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

“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.

July 28, 2013

translation * diaspora

Posted in Poetry & Life at 5:00 pm by karenanhweilee

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.

May 24, 2013

one * hundred * years

Posted in Poetry & Life at 1:54 am by karenanhweilee

January 23, 2013

poetry * things

Posted in omoiyari interviews at 6:56 pm by karenanhweilee

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!

January 11, 2012

phyla * joy

Posted in Poetry & Life at 3:19 am by karenanhweilee

Poetry Film based on the 2012 collection by Karen An-hwei Lee
For more information or an invitation to read, please click here.

May 15, 2011

yuko * adachi

Posted in empathies at 10:36 pm by karenanhweilee

In collaboration with Broadsided: Putting Literature & Art on the Streets, Yuko Adachi designed a broadside to raise funds for disaster relief in Japan. 

This one is called, “Love Heals Japan.”

Praise:  Many thanks to “New Pages” for sharing the word!

May 13, 2011

flor * de * jazmín

Posted in inklings, prayers at 5:34 am by karenanhweilee

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.

May 10, 2011

prayer * stones * love

Posted in Poetry & Life at 12:22 am by karenanhweilee

Among the google search terms used to find this blog: “prayer stones love.” 

The Best Spiritual Writing 2012

Yes, this Penguin anthology is coming to bookstores in September… and I’m in it for the first time, thanks to the two wonderful Philips – much gratitude to Philip and Philip for their generosity! 

Prayer: Psalm 150…”Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

April 23, 2011

soy * maestra

Posted in empathies, Poetry & Life, prayers at 7:25 pm by karenanhweilee

A reason why I love the neighborhood…

Overheard at the hairdresser’s this weekend, one Nepalese esthetician said to her younger sister, a Nepalese cosmetologist (no, I don’t know the difference between an esthetician and a cosmetologist: I only know their titles from reading the licenses on the wall.  I do know the difference between a cosmetologist and a cosmologist, will give myself credit for that) —

“The doctor said I can’t have any sugar.”

“What can you eat, then?” (Clicking noises for sympathy.)

“No rice… no potatoes… no corn, especially not corn, the doctor said, and no tortillas… no fruit… no oranges, no strawberries, no pineapples… if I have an apple, only half… no juice… no cookies… no sodas… no cupcakes…. no pancakes… nothing.”

My kind & patient hairdresser, a self-described “African woman in a Mexican mujer/cuerpo” b/c her great-grandmother was an African woman from Africa who lived in Mexico and married a Mexican, echoed, “¡Eh!  What can you eat?”

“Spicy peanuts.  I can eat spicy peanuts.” 

Cacahuates picante!  Ah, the little graces in our lives.  I actually think a Nepalese diet would be a vast improvement (smoked fish, black soybeans, pumpkin vine tips, lentils) over traditional American fare, but I also understand love for cakes.

Prayer: For the women in my neighborhood who see me at the market or hairdresser & ask if I’m Filipina, or Vietnamese, or Thai, or Japanese, and I wish my response were all of the above y la Mexicana. 

When the women ask me what I do for a living, I say, soy maestra. 

I am a teacher.

April 20, 2011

barbara * ras

Posted in Poetry & Life at 3:31 pm by karenanhweilee

Elena says Barbara Ras is conducting a workshop at the Ruskin Club in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 7.  More information here!


“There were feathers and the light that passed through feathers.
There were birds that made the feathers and the sun that made the light.
The feathers of the birds made the air soft, softer
than the quiet in a cocoon waiting for wings…”

from “A Book Said Dream and I Do”
by Barbara Ras

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