The Sealey Challenge: Washes, Prays

Noor Naga’s Washes, Prays has sat close to hand for a year now, waiting, patient, for the right day and time to be read. Today, when I expected to read something short, was that day—at least for a first read. Washes, Prays is divided into three sections: Khadija—Coocoo—gets the first (“Washes”) and the third (“Prays”), while the middle goes to her best friend, Nouf. Coocoo … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Washes, Prays

The Sealey Challenge: Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions

Janet Wong’s poetry is charming as hell, and Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions is another delightful entry—or perhaps I should say it’s a lovely book in her back catalog. Knock on Wood is built around superstitions: seventeen of them, in fact, each one with a delightful poem accompanied by a lush, warm, almost mythic illustration by Julie Paschkis. The illustrations feel pretty much perfect … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions

The Sealey Challenge: Cowboy & otros poemas / Cowboy & Other Poems

Cowboy & Other Poems, or Cowboy & otros poemas, written by Alejandro Alberrán Polanco and selected and translated by Rachel Galvin for Ugly Duckling Presse, caught my eye for the word on the cover, cowboy calling to mind all the gaucho literature I’ve ever read. (Borges’ “El Sur” made a big impression, okay? And so did “El guacho insufrible.”) I did not find any gauchos … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Cowboy & otros poemas / Cowboy & Other Poems

The Sealey Challenge: Eyes that Kiss in the Corners

Almost all my friends were Asian American, when I was little—but I almost never saw them reflected in popular culture. In their homes, sure. In museums, too, at least a little. But other than woodblock prints, or Korean pottery, or Chinese jades, I didn’t see my friends or their cultures reflected in the world outside our corner. It makes books like Joanna Ho’s Eyes that … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Eyes that Kiss in the Corners

The Sealey Challenge: Readings in World Literature

Srikanth Reddy’s Readings in World Literature is a strange and delightful cycle of prose poetry, or perhaps it’s poetic essays: I’m not really the expert on that. Reddy, in his acknowledgements, calls Readings “this poem,” so I think I’ll say that it is one poem, or one poem cycle, broken into thirty-three parts. Each is numbered. Some are a full page in length; others are … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Readings in World Literature

The Sealey Challenge: I Have Never Been Able to Sing

Ugly Duckling Presse calls it “an experiment in creating autobiography’s negative.” It shares something with never-have-I-ever, except without alcohol (or counting). But, most of all, Alexis Almeida’s I Have Never Been Able to Sing starts with never-have-I-evers and moves into telling the story of Almeida herself. Every poem but one starts with “I have never” before moving through an assortment of things Almeida has never … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: I Have Never Been Able to Sing

The Sealey Challenge: El lenguaje es un revólver para dos / Language Is A Revolver for Two

Mario Montalbetti’s El lenguaje es un revólver para dos, translated with grace and beauty by Clare Sullivan for Ugly Duckling Presse as Language Is A Revolver for Two, is poetry of the quotidian, small facets of the world writ large and stark and given a gloss of daily magic. A Revolver for Two sounds violent, at least to me, but there is little of violence … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: El lenguaje es un revólver para dos / Language Is A Revolver for Two