World Hotel

World Hotel

by Reetika Vazirani
     
 

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Born in India and raised in the U.S., Reetika Vazirani is at the forefront of a group of young immigrant writers who are questioning citizenship and the effects of migration and immigration on the discovery of one’s self. The topics she writes about—eastern culture meeting west—are both timely and timeless, as she demonstrates a love for

Overview

Born in India and raised in the U.S., Reetika Vazirani is at the forefront of a group of young immigrant writers who are questioning citizenship and the effects of migration and immigration on the discovery of one’s self. The topics she writes about—eastern culture meeting west—are both timely and timeless, as she demonstrates a love for storytelling, delights in the music and flavors of the world, and displays a subtle understanding of cross-cultural conflicts for women.

Divided into two sections, "Inventing Maya" and "It’s Me, I’m Not at Home," World Hotel gives voice to those who are struggling with the burden of being different while also experiencing the thrill of transformation. There are poems written in memory of family members, to husbands, to lovers, and poems from mother to daughter. Through her exquisite formal skills and linguistic range, Vazirani ultimately creates a home in poetry; for her readers she creates penetrating portraits and keen glimpses into a world which—for all its unfamiliarity—we recognize as strikingly similar to our own.

The Chapel Hill Rotary invited me twice,
and I wore Aunty’s yellow sari. I laugh,
for ten years I lived on a mountain.
I show them Mussoorie.
They say it looks like the Blue Ridge.
They’re fascinated by so much silk—six yards on one girl—but I like dresses and scarves, red nail polish, and I will have to learn to dance. . . .
—from "Friday Mixer"

Born in India, Reetika Vazirani’s first book, White Elephants, was selected for the Barnard New Women Poets Prize. She has received much recognition for her poetry, including a Pushcart Prize, a "Discovery" award from The Nation, and inclusion in Best American Poetry. Educated at Wellesley College and the University of Virginia, Vazirani serves as an advisory editor for Callaloo.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eight years after her well-received debut, White Elephants, Vazirani returns with a skillful, inviting sophomore effort, exploring South Asian, North American and Caribbean heritage, geography and language through a variety of masks and voices. Foremost among those voices is the articulate woman (apparently based on Vazirani's mother) who tells her own complex life story in "Inventing Maya," a careful sequence that forms the first half of this book: its detailed short poems follow Maya through her north Indian childhood ("In the Himalayas, I ran faster than any girl"), overseas to Washington, D.C., and then through an eventful adult life (spent mostly in the U.S.), where she remembers "those who had/ no books to brace/ them in the havoc." With its blend of tersely bittersweet lyricism and biographical data, "Inventing" might be a South Asian-American answer to Rita Dove's famous sequence Thomas and Beulah (which chronicled Dove's grandparents): Vazirani's sequence stands up very well beside that imposing model. The book's second half occupies quite other territory, pursuing in villanelle, sestina, semi-ghazal, Cavafy-esque narrative and other, more compressed forms the poet's own contemporary concerns. Though Vazirani's light verse can fall flat, the serious poems toward the close of the volume return to her strengths, among them clarity, geographical detail, and a way with short, unpunctuated lines: "Dedicated to You" (about posthumous fame) begins spry and ends with remarkable gravity, while "It's a Young Country" ties America's troubles convincingly to the poet's own. (Feb.) Forecast: A recent profile in Poets & Writers should raise awareness of Vazirani's work among her fellow writers, and this book's style and substance should get it nominated for one or another prize. With Copper Canyon riding high on its two NBA nominations (and Ruth Stone's winning of the award), interest in this title will be further bolstered.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781556591839
Publisher:
Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
10/01/2002
Pages:
112
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.30(d)

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