After Asia by Michael Gregory Stephens, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
After Asia

After Asia

by Michael Gregory Stephens

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The story of the G.I. who returns to the States with an Asian bride is a familiar one in American literature. But Stephens ( Lost in Seoul ) takes a unique approach. In a brief introduction to these poems and prose poems, he tells readers the earliest pieces ``were collaborative, my writing down what she his Korean companion said, then shaping those utterances into a literary form.'' To these, he adds poems from the male perspective, as well as translations from Korean texts. Since this multitude of voices is almost entirely in the first person, the various vistas--male/female, ancient/modern--merge. In one poem, the Asian speaker talks about rice as ``a way of life.'' A few pages later, the American boy who is allergic to starch and ``cannot eat potatoes, passing over my nightly portion,'' yearns to eat rice. Juxtaposed with these pieces is another poem, presumably a translation from a Korean text, where ``the moon / is rice-mother / and Pleiades / her children.'' These mythic retellings mirror the archetypal differences between the modern male and female speakers, while translations of Korean love poems accentuate the unity of male and female. While Stephens takes no great technical or emotional risks, he also steers clear of pretense. The collection proceeds at a leisurely pace, enchanting and wholly believable. (June)

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