By Elinor Benedict
2000 Winner of the could Swenson Poetry Award. Foreword by means of Maxine Kumin. even if the poems during this assortment aren't narrative, they do current a story, progressively unspooling the story of the poet's insurgent aunt, who left the family members "to marry a Chinaman" within the 1930's. it really is an previous tale, jam-packed with poignancy, secret, family members satisfaction, and doubt. whilst the aunt returns to die, the poet, now grown, discovers in herself the necessity to reclaim the connections that her kinfolk had severed. She travels to China numerous times--to research. steadily, via wide-eyed, insightful poems, we see the poet rebuild together with her chinese language cousins a feeling of iteration, relatives, and humanity--bridging over all that divides us.
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Extra resources for All That Divides Us: Poems (Swenson Poetry Award)
For me you are generous with your life. You will not give me away. Only I can do that, a loving thief giving ﬁngered goods back with a pinch of rue. Here in my patched coat, my pretender’s shoes, I stand.  THREE In the Company of Magpies T H E C H I N E S E A R T & C U LT U R E T O U R Valuables In Shanghai rich young Amanda buys dead insects in amber from a shop as dark as a vault. Where jade cutters hunch, she scoops up handfuls of stones, raking them into her purse, twittering how they look just like quail’s eggs.
We rise and gather souvenirs, avoid the stare of leather faces as we walk a thousand steps down Tiger Hill, where spirits hover, pilgrims keep on climbing, and we return to trampled earth.  V I S I O N AT TA I - S H A N M O U N TA I N I’m doubtful, restless, on this journey upward with Buddhist pilgrims to Tai-Shan seeking whatever mountain covered with cloud can give. Here at the midway station, the summit’s foot, westerners gasp at miles of stairway carved into rock, a tower of Babel, a Jacob’s ladder, spotted with toiling ﬁgures.
They sit shyly while their leader demonstrates how to paint bamboo on silk. But we are tired. We have seen too much bamboo already. During the question period we hardly ask anything. We walk around slowly, smiling at the walls, wondering what these people did before they got old. Worked in the silk mills, picked soybeans? One small woman shufﬂes up to me and points out her painting above us, a blood-red peony. She tells me she speaks a little English. I look for a suitable question to give her.