有 識: Have Knowledge
From the immigration questionnaire given to Chineseentering or re-entering the U.S. during the Chinese Exclusion Act
Have you ridden in a streetcar?Can you describe the taste of bread?Where are the joss houses located in the city?Do Jackson Street and Dupont runin a circle or a line, what is the fruityour mother ate before she bore you,how many letters a yeardo you receive from your father?Of which material is your ancestral hallnow built? How many water buffalodoes your uncle own?Do you love him? Do you hate her?What kind of bird sangat your parents' wedding? What are the birth datesfor each of your cousins: did your brother diefrom starvation, work, or murder?Do you know the price of tea here?Have you ever touched a stranger's faceas he slept? Did it snow the yearyou first wintered in our desert?How much weight isa bucket and a hammer? Which storeis opposite your grandmother's?Did you sleep with that manfor money? Did you sleep with that manfor love? Name the color and numberof all your mother's dresses. Nowyour village's rivers.What diseases of the heartdo you carry? What country do you seewhen you think of your children?Does your sister ever write?In which direction does her front door face?How many steps did you takewhen you finally left her?How far did you walkbefore you looked back?
“有 識: Have Knowledge” from STRONGER THAN FEAR: POEMS OF EMPOWERMENT, COMPASSION, AND SOCIAL JUSTICE: by Carol Alexander and Stephen Massimilla.
Published by Cave Moon Press on March 16, 2022.
Copyright © 2022 by Paisley Rekdal.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Paisley Rekdal is the author of four books of nonfiction, and seven books of poetry, including Nightingale, Appropriate: A Provocation, and the forthcoming West: A Translation. Her work has received the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, Pushcart Prizes, a Fulbright Fellowship, and various state arts council awards. The former Utah poet laureate, she teaches at the University of Utah and is a distinguished professor.
Port Angeles, Washington
"In his elegy for W.B. Yeats, Auden famously avowed that 'poetry makes nothing happen.' Yet in the very same stanza, he went on to define the art as 'a way of happening' (italics mine). In that single word 'way' resides the genius of Stronger Than Fear. For all its beautiful diversity, for all the ambitious reach—into ancestry, into history, into hazard and futurity—of the poems gathered here, there is a striking concord and unity of purpose. And that purpose is compassion; and its prospect is of the ways in which compassion, truly voiced, redeems the times in which we live. There is a thrill of humanity in these poems—something to refresh our hopes and to renew our courage."
— Donald Revell
"The poems in Stronger Than Fear are the rooms of the world we live in. Their complex truths are artfully arranged to lead us through nerve and redemption, inner and outer. This remarkable anthology enters social and political issues without offering answers. Instead, the poems draw us up to a current of other people's experiences and the tender personal that lies beneath. Through the sinew of crafted lines and the multiplicity of honesties, this collection moves readers toward an unshadowed humanity."
— Lauren Camp
" ... Carol Alexander and Stephen Massimilla have gathered poets and poems that remind us that we are more than news headlines sometimes suggest. That people are capable of great compassion. That poetry can be a vehicle for empowerment. That above all we must never abandon hope; we must notice the world speaking and we must listen."
— Traci Brimhall