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     ravel
     by Bonnie Wai-Lee Kwong


Bonnie Wai-Lee Kwong is a poet and software developer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has lived in nine states and two continents. Writing is a way for her to traverse seen and unseen geographies. She speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, some Japanese, English, ruby, and javascript. Kwong’s poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. Among her projects is a digital anthology, The Taste of Each, curated around references to oranges and bananas in various literary and artistic works across the world. Kwong’s first poetry collection, ravel, spans wide and invites readers to interrogate boundaries. It has been listed as a finalist for the Many Voices Project by New Rivers Press, and the White Pine Press Poetry Prize. The digital index page for ravel can be accessed at www.bonniekwong.info/ravel

(photograph by Bob Hsiang)


ravel
by Bonnie Wai-Lee Kwong

"In ravel, Bonnie Kwong weaves from the disparate--from the quiet intimacies of love to the cruel depredations of history—an elegant fabric. Kwong’s poems are spare, restrained, yet at the same time made rich by her knowledge of multiple languages and cultures. “How much sweetness do we need to swallow the bitter?” asks one speaker."

Leslie McGrath, author, Out From the Pleiades

ISBN 978-0-9903565-3-0
118 pages
$16.95
5.5"x8.5" perfect bound, paper

To purchase this book click HERE.


(excerpt)

To Swim Daily

is to wing one’s way forward,
with each breath, to part water,
wave water behind.

My mother stood facing me
with outstretched hands, wading
backwards as I breathed my way toward her.
Waves bent light into tentacles on sand.
Her underwater body loomed large.

A refugee at six, my mother left no wake
from her boat for lovers or me to follow.
Where did she cross the divide
between Communist and colonial?
Not a porous line on a map,
but a solid wall of fear.

The summer after she landed,
she ran alone into the sea,
past the red flag on the beach.
The storm claimed her inflatable ring.
A stranger swept her ashore.
At the beach house, no one asked
if the girl who left was the wet one
who returned, or what she gave to the sea.

My mother once told me this story:
two lovers, champion swimmers
escaping the mainland,
cast farewells into the sea.
The man lagged.
The woman continued.

There are walls in the sea.
In the undertow of history,
we swim parallel to shore,
till the sea itself is tired.


Reviews

"In this multilingual collection of poems, Bonnie Wai-Lee Kwong writes of the subtext in every civilized good. Hidden histories, suffering, and injustice are calmly dissected by this poet with clear eyes and straight diction -- words that at once enlighten, empower, and untangle." 

Koon Woon, author, Water Chasing Water, 2014 American Book Award winner.


"Bonnie Wai-Lee Kwong is a poet who “traffics in songs unsung”. There is a musicality to her lines and a pervasive intelligence behind each piece. Sometimes she permits the rational, scientific part of her mind to dominate but more often her poems are sensual, delicate yet fierce, dynamic, and probing. Read this book and savor its flame!"  

Susan Terris
, author, Ghost of Yesterday, New & Selected Poems