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Editors’ Picks: A Roundup of Asian American Poetry Broadsides

2010 March 19

The presenting of poetry in beautifully laid-out flat prints — often accompanied with artwork or produced using the letterpress process — is a time-honored tradition.  The broadside emphasizes the way that a poem navigates visual space and draws out the reader’s sensual experience of a poem beyond the metaphorical or imagined and into the realm of physical touch, color, line, and shape.  The production of broadsides also provides opportunities for collaborative conversation between poets and the people who deal intimately with the physical production and setting of their work: book artists/printers, painters and illustrators.  In recent years (especially with the advent of internet technology), the broadside also has taken on new importance as a means by which to make poetry more familiar, more affordable, and more culturally accessible to the public.  The Poetry Foundation’s free downloadable “refrigerator” broadsides and the Broadsided project — which publishes printable electronic broadsides and encourages their free distribution in public places — are two examples of projects that seek to expand the scope of  the dialogues taking place around poetry while still maintaining a value for stunning visual presentation.  I’m particularly drawn to the idea of both kinds of broadsides — those which, by their small-scale production (often by hand), ensure that the poems printed on them will continue to be treasured as objects of quality and great cultural importance, and those which, by their widespread availability, ensure that poetry can continue to grow outside of itself, to evoke new conversations in unusual places so that the consumption of beautiful art need not be reserved for those with money.

Here is a short roundup of some broadsides I found that feature Asian American poetry:

Naomi Shihab Nye – “Boy and Egg”
[One of a series of free printables from the Poetry Foundation’s web site]

Li-Young Lee – “Every Circle Wider”
[Available from the Poetry Center of Chicago]

Jeffrey Yang – “Wolf Shadow”
[Available from the Center for Book Arts in NYC]

Agha Shahid Ali – “Ghazal”
[Available from the Center for Book Arts in NYC]

Oliver de la Paz – “If Given” and “Fury”
[Available on his web site]

Barbara Jane Reyes – “Polyglot Incantation”
[Available from Zoland Poetry]

Has your poetry ever been made into a broadside?  Do you create broadsides?  We’d love to hear from you!  Please leave a comment to tell us about your experiences.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. March 19, 2010

    Moving Parts Press did a broadside of my poem, “Davenport and Swanton Camps” back in the early 1980s.


  2. March 19, 2010

    P.S. It was a great experience, because I got to watch her do it, select the paper, print copies, etc.

  3. Iris permalink*
    March 19, 2010

    Hello Jean – thanks so much for sharing your experience! It sounds like it must have been really fascinating to watch the press in process. We’ll have to look up “Davenport and Swanton Camps.” Were you pleased with the result?

  4. May 10, 2010

    Yes, I was happy with the result. It was simple, no fancy graphics, but just good solid printing. I don’t think you’ll find the poem on any websites. But I may photograph it and post it on my blog one of these days.

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