cover image Sky Country

Sky Country

Christine Kitano. BOA, $16 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-942683-43-8

Kitano (Birds of Paradise) traces the relationships between family, memory, and language in the immigrant experience. The speakers of Kitano’s poems are often daughters and granddaughters struggling to connect with and make sense of the histories of violence that precede them. In the book’s title poem, the speaker says of a grandmother, “She knows how history can wipe away a person’s language.” That same grandmother appears again, in “Grandmother Tells Me a Story: Passing the Lake, Korea 1952.” “Her metaphors// and my poor Korean commingle into myth,” Kitano writes. Ambivalence, longing, and a sense of alienation from the past permeate many of the poems. Kitano speaks to the breach that exists between old-world ancestors and a younger new-world generation: she observes, “How far and fast it travels, this light/ that is already dead. How far and fast/ it must journey, the prayer whispered in the dark.” Kitano’s alluring, well-crafted poems are attuned to tragedy and loss, yet an element of wonder shines through. (Sept.)