Saturday, April 30, 2016

Motherless Tongues and Haiku

Last night at Asian American Writers' Workshop, I heard Leila Chudori read from her newly translated novel Home, followed by Vicente Rafael reading from Benedict Anderson's memoir A Life Beyond Boundaries. The discussion was moderated by Gina Apostol. Rafael, a former student of Anderson's, and Professor of History at the University of Washington, was really sharp. In his reading, he put together a collage of extracts that focused on the role of luck in a life. According to Rafael, Anderson once noted that "luck" does not appear in the index at the back of any scholarly book: it is outside the boundaries of academic inquiry. If Benedict was not expelled from Indonesia for contradicting the Suharto regime's explanation of the 1965 massacre, he would not have lived in Thailand and the Philippines, and written his innovative comparative study on nationalism, Imagined Communities. During the Q&A, Rafael explained Anderson's ideas very succinctly in response to questions sometimes pedantic, sometimes vague. I'm now reading his book Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language amid the Wars of Translation. The Introduction, titled "The Aporia of Translation," is beautifully written, almost poetic.


With these four haiku, I conclude the NaPoWrMo.

The coffee maker
hissing like distant gunfire
end of the month

all the green growing
lush pigment

the police siren
the bird resists arrest

Spring 2016
a book of selected poems
or a brief history?

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