Rendang

Will Harris. Wesleyan Univ., $15.95 ISBN 978-0-8195-7989-8
“Tjandra Sari,/ I call you wrongly. Rend me/ rightly. Rootless and unclear,” concludes the first poem in Harris’s sonically rich debut, following a page of riffs on the book’s title: “rend, renderer, rendezvous.” (Rendang is a Sumatran stew.) Of British and Chinese-Indonesian descent, Harris writes vividly on language and family, conjuring cityscapes from London to Chicago to Jakarta, continually reimagining his own visions. Amid racism and violence, these poems still manage to sing: “chanting in bloom my soul before/ I knowed it chanting too/ I ran down to the tube and from/ Gray’s Inn Rd to Farringdon to the Golden Lane Estate/ buddleia not buddha chanting in bloom.” While the collection opens with a quotation by Derek Walcott (and questions of empire circle throughout), the book ends with a nod to W.S. Merwin’s poem about failing as a son. Here, Harris offers an urgent and moving exploration of cultural identity and legacy, one made all the richer by its unique narrative structure and playful attention to sound. (July)
Reviewed on : 06/10/2020
Release date: 08/01/2020
Genre: Poetry
Paperback - 80 pages - 978-1-78378-559-9
Book - 978-0-8195-7990-4
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