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Stitching Porcelain, Deborah Larsen's first book of poetry, is a narrative-lyric sequence based on the life of Matteo Ricci, the resourceful Jesuit who entered China in 1583 and stayed for a quarter century. Pondering cultural accommodation as well as faith, many of the poems center on actual events: Ricci's dressing as a Buddhist; his awe-inspiring map (with China shrewdly centered); his prostration before an empty Dragon Throne. Other events the poet imagined. (In the title room, Ricci addresses a love lyric to China: "Your porcelain is so fine, so thin,/a brass wire can repair it . . . /Once I saw you beneath the bamboo/ . . . bent back/from the world, stitching porcelain.") With a felicity rare in a debut volume, Larsen's opalescent poetry works in perfect counterpoint to the strange and brilliant Ricci.