By Elinor Benedict
2000 Winner of the may perhaps Swenson Poetry Award. Foreword by means of Maxine Kumin. even though the poems during this assortment aren't narrative, they do current a story, progressively 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, packed with poignancy, secret, kin delight, and doubt. whilst the aunt returns to die, the poet, now grown, discovers in herself the necessity to reclaim the connections that her kin had severed. She travels to China a number of times--to examine. progressively, via wide-eyed, insightful poems, we see the poet rebuild together with her chinese language cousins a feeling of new release, kinfolk, and humanity--bridging over all that divides us.
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Additional resources for All That Divides Us: Poems (Swenson Poetry Award)
This is no brazen shriek of Chinese opera. It’s a child lost. An animal snared. We clutch our sweaters around us. After the wail subsides, Mr. ” In our light applause I seem to hear the sound of water lapping against the sides of our bus, a boat full of strangers, pulling away from shore.  S Y LV I A P L AT H I N C H I N A How did you get here, big blonde with x-ray eyes? On the train from Jinan to Qufu, you climb out of a slick magazine brought by an old classmate of yours from the States who wants a place in the gossip.
The Memento On the institute wall we ﬁnd a small photo in black and white of those who studied  here, among them handsome Zhou Enlai, a shadow-man who often stood between Mao and the people. I ask my Chinese cousin: Why no giant statue, no ﬂorid portrait of Zhou? At ﬁrst he doesn’t answer. Then he says only, It’s not his way. Meaning, I think, Cousin, be quiet. You walk on our soil, but you cannot enter that needle hole inside us where he lives.  Y I N A N D YA N G Shanghai Contortionist She’s at it again, that rubber girl with no bones.
Today for foreign guests the children dance and sing under red tile roofs where the air smells like jasmine and cabbage soup. They dress up in festival costumes with paper ﬂowers, silk butterﬂies, golden crowns, crane feathers. For the grand ﬁnale two boys roar in a double dragon suit. Sweaty after the pageant, the children troop outside, strip to underpants and swim two by two in a raised pool the size of a victory garden. Some children’s ribs show, none looks fat enough for a dragon to eat. But they are strong and hungry.
All That Divides Us: Poems (Swenson Poetry Award) by Elinor Benedict