Monday, June 27, 2005

After Russell Leong's The Country of Dreams and Dust

One of the several books of poems I have bought but not yet read closely is Russell Leong's The Country of Dreams and Dust from West End Press (1993), a book blurbed by Janice Mirikitani and Jessica Hagedorn and Ishmael Reed, who calls Leong's book a "breakthrough for the poetry of Diaspora."

The book is divided into three parts and includes the wonderful and breathtaking "Phoenix," inspired by the 1991 murders of six Buddhist monks and one elderly nun in Arizona. I'm devoting this blog entry to Leong because I had not yet fully read (and therefore been able to appreciate) the tremendous power of the long title poem "The Country of Dreams and Dust." It's a poem of sixteen parts, each striking and leading well to the next and remembering the one before it.

I'm not sure how much poetry he is writing these days...I think maybe still active at UCLA and Amerasia Journal? Anyway, I wonder if we will see more poems like this...or maybe I will just have to look a little harder.

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