cover image The Strangest of Theatres: Poets Writing Across Borders

The Strangest of Theatres: Poets Writing Across Borders

Edited by Jared Hawkley, Susan Rich, and Brian Turner. McSweeney's/The Poetry Foundation, $28 (461p) ISBN 978-1-938073-26-7

This anthology-cum-travel guide%E2%80%94comprised of essays, poems, discussion, and recommendations by canonical and award-wining writers%E2%80%94is essential reading for potential globetrotters and provides dangerous temptation for those suffering wanderlust. Reflecting on their time as internationally deployed field poets, many of the essays describe profoundly transformative experiences, whether teaching poetry at an international secondary school in Saudi Arabia, volunteering in Rwanda through the Peace Corps, or translating classical-era Japanese female poets. The three editors skillfully avoid what, in less adept hands, could be fodder for expatriate platitudes or mere observations from abroad. Instead the material ruminates on how language, place, politics, and personal identity are remade through translation, estrangement, and the traversing of borders. In addition to these lyrical and poetic reflections is a thorough appendix of practical information on grants, residencies, and fellowships as well as travel tips for conscientiously visiting charged or war-torn regions. This juxtaposition of the insightful with the practical makes for an exquisite array ideal for any reader longing to lift anchor. Although aimed at traveling writers, this travelogue collection possesses all the giddiness and universal appeal of an imminent adventure. (May)