Contributor Reads

My Mountain Country

Ye Lijun’s My Mountain Country, translated from the Chinese by Fiona Sze-Lorrain. Foreword by Christopher Merrill.

Contemporary Chinese poet Ye Lijun’s My Mountain Country (bilingual edition) in Fiona Sze-Lorrain’s translation, with a foreword by Christopher Merrill and an essay by the poet-translator, was recently published by World Poetry Books. In this remarkable English debut, award-winning Chinese contemporary poet Ye Lijun offers readers a lyrical diorama of nature and the inner world. By turns intimate and profound, Ye’s poems in Fiona Sze-Lorrain’s masterful translations make music of everyday silences, and illuminate the invisible openings in our lives. In this vital collection by one of China’s essential literary voices, each encounter is an invitation, wherein a village, a nest, a telescope, or a book proves to be a transient guide to the unknown.

“Fiona Sze-Lorrain brings her sense of immediacy, and her lucid control of tone, to these inspired translations of Ye Lijun which capture, with unerring musicality, the rhythms of the original Chinese.” —Martha Kapos

“Ye Lijun’s quiet, powerful poems accrete from places, memories, affect, and ideas unique to the poet. The distinctiveness of Ye’s diction, metaphors, and associations make her imagination and intelligence anchor in ours. We come away from Ye’s mountain, her house, her books, her loves, and return to those of our own with our senses made more acute. Translator Fiona Sze-Lorrain, a gifted poet herself, creates an English-language voice for Ye Lijun that has all the grace and surprise of the original.”—Thomas Moran

American Mythology

American Mythology, a poetry collection by Raphael Kosek!

Raphael Helena Kosek investigates sacred spaces in American Mythology, dismantling domestic landscapes, paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, and archetypes of the western frontier, where buffalo and antelope roam.  As with grace, “The truth comes unexpected,” she reminds us—in the course of finding a missing button, “while washing parsley at the sink,” observing the “stark calligraphy” of crows in flight or hanging a “faded military flag.”  Crisscrossing multiple terrains of heart and imagination, and as declared in “Ars Poetica,” hers are poems “that will break your window.” —Pauline Uchmanowicz, author of Starfish

Raphael Kosek’s American Mythology is a fine debut collection.  The mythology she explores is as much personal as it is national.  In the title poem, she says, “I’ve never been out west / but the frontier is in my bones.”  Kosek assesses her world with a painterly eye.  She writes of the “murderous beauty of bright things” and tells us “the Black Hills are not really black / but green and gray like Cezanne’s mountains.”  Elsewhere, she says, “I want to write the poem . . . that won’t stop bleeding.”  And she has.  Repeatedly. —Charles Rafferty, author of The Smoke of Horses