(Arthur Sze’s ninth book of poetry, Compass Rose (Copper Canyon, 2014), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A new collection, Sight Lines, will be published by Copper Canyon in February 2019. His poem "Dawn Redwood" is included in the Harvard Advocate's upcoming Cell issue.)EE— First of all — thank you so much for taking the time to meet! We at the Advocate are huge fans of your work and incredibly excited to be publishing “Dawn Redwood” in Cell. In reading your poems, something that’s really struck me is their sort of contemplative traveling energy — reading them we transit through their images, say, from a landscape into the cells of a tree into the cosmic scale of stars. Are your poems driven by memory, by research, by invention — what would you say is the driving thread connecting the images of your poems?AS— That’s one of the mysteries of art, and I’m not sure I can be the best articulator of it! But I can say that my work has to do with braiding, and with exploring what’s happening in different spaces, allowing the imagination to jump or move, in a way that isn’t linear but still convergent, so that the disparate worlds going on are braiding different narratives or lines of exploration, influencing and affecting each other.
“Soak the duck egg for one month; boil it before eating; serve with food and wine.”— Jia Sixie, Essential Techniques for the People’s Welfare, 5th century C.E.The salted yolk of the duck egg, in its solid form, pervades Cantonese cuisine. It’s floated in rice porridge, pebbled over greens, nested inside lotus-wrapped rice squares. Perhaps most remarkably, in certain traditional varietals of mooncake, the whole preserved yolk hangs, orange & globular, in the pastry’s lotus-paste sky. Most remarkably—that is to say—until just recently.The liu sha bao emerged in Hong Kong, my childhood hometown, less than ten years ago—a newborn star in a modern South China food constellation already crowded with everything from the cha shao bao (barbecue pork bun) to the dou sha bao (red bean paste bun) to the han bao bao (…hamburger).
Summer spreads us denizens of 21 South Street far and wide. Through us, scattered in search of employment or knowledge or some essence not so easily named, Mother Advo stretches her tentacles to improbable spaces, to times past, present, and future. We live vigorously, we fail spectacularly, and, of course, we read ravenously. The next posts feature just a few of the very best things we read over the summer.Frog by Mo YanAnother of Mo Yan’s surreal and devastating novels that whirl through the Cultural Revolution and settle in its traumatized, guilty, capitalist aftermath, Frog is composed of letters written to fictional Japanese author Sugitani Yoshihito by a narrator who calls himself Tadpole. We begin with a scene from Tadpole’s starving childhood in China’s 1960s famine, so hungry he and his classmates fall upon a shipment of coal and start eating its shiny black rocks.