however, i could live a happy life if i never hear another word from raymond bianchi. in a post about a new anthology called LANGUAGE FOR A NEW CENTURY: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond , Bianchi writes:
The work is so broad that it seems that every poet who has anything to do with Asia is included. […] There are some really great poets in this book. Nikmet Hazmet, Sarah Gambito, Prageeta Sharma, Ha Jin and Bei Dao among them. The fact is however that the weight of the size of Asia makes this book seem unsatisfying in its scope having said that how does one encapsulate Asia in 695 pages? The book is in reality a triumph and gives many Asian voices a chance in the American market […]
so bianchi is a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of asia and a little underwhelmed by the sheer size of the anthology. he goes on to write:
One of the problems with After-Postmodern Racial politics is that there are no boundaries. When does someone stop being “asian” and become just American or British? It is hard to argue that some of these poets are really “asian” in fact 102 of the over 240 poets are in fact immigrants or natives of the USA, Australia and the UK and if their goal was to create an anthology of all poets with any Asian blood- where are the Latin American Asian poets?
Poetic identity politics is a really dangerous road. This might have been the result of the fact that all three editors are Anglo-American academics the inclusion of a poet editor from the Middle East or East Asia might have mitigated this problem. There are poets in this book who it is hard to argue they are Asian- Yehuda Amichai comes to mind is he really a Middle Eastern Poet? Is Ashkenazi Israeli culture Asian? You see why this is problematic.
yes, i do see why this is problematic! racial politics are just way too flexible these days, with asian-americans, filipino-americans, korean-americans, chinese-americans, japanese-americans–who can keep track of all of these borderless bodies! they are not REALLY asian! it gets worse:
Would Peter Gizzi or Jennifer Scappettone be included in a contemporary Italian anthology? Of course not- but people whose connections to Asia are just as distant are included here and I think that it is a weakness of this book. I think that the anthologists should have limited themselves to poets living in Asia or ones whose primary formation was in Asian culture not Immigrant Culture. Many of the poets included who are of Asian origin are really part of their immigrant cultures- not Asian culture directly and this is the only weakness of this book.
thus, the asian-american poet is dead. apparently, if you descend from asian immigrants then you are no longer part of asian culture in any ‘direct’ way, but you are now part of the grand melting pot known as ‘immigrant culture’. well, it’s good that bianchi came along and clarified the boundaries and saved not only those confused asian-americans but all our cultureless immigrant souls from the dangerous road of ‘poetic identity politics’. forgive us for having complex cultural and racial subjectivities and for rejecting the assimilation myth of immigration. we’re sorry to confuse you.
and my favorite bit of bianchi’s idiocy:
In the end however contemporary poetic identity politics gets in the way of a book that might have been seminal instead it is only important.