Thank you, NewPages and Theresé Samson Wenham for posting a review of The Palace of Contemplating Departure. "In her debut collection, Brynn Saito carries uncertainties and measures them out against the known and the unknown. Saito finds an enthralling voice for complex emotions about race, war, identity, scars, ghosts, family, and suffering." Read on at NewPages.
Thank you to Wendy and Lantern Review for a wonderful conversation. As I note in the interview, "both my experience in the Kundiman fellowship and my friendship with Traci Brimhall have taught me that being a good literary citizen is about cultivating authentic connections and caring about one another. It’s about believing in and championing one another’s work. It’s a model that goes against the individualism so prevalent in a competitive, capitalistic North American social framework."
Thank you, Tyler Mills and The Collagist, for a new review of The Palace of Contemplating Departure. "The voices in this collection will stay in your head; they are voices that refuse what is easy for what is real, and they create beauty out of illusion—as devastating, and necessary, as that illusion is." Read the full review here.
Thanks to Lyrics & Dirges, Litquake, Poetry Flash, Poetry Tuesday at Yerba Buena Gardens, and poet Anhvu Buchanan, I'll be participating in a handful of readings in the Bay Area this July. 7/13 in SF, 7/14 in Oakland, 7/16 in SF, 7/17 in Berkeley, and 7/19 back in SF. Check out the reading schedule for details.
Garrett Bryant reviews The Palace of Contemplating Departure in HINGED. "Ultimately Saito leaves the reader with the tools to overcome the hardships of love and loss. Her tenacious voice and emotionally charged words give the reader grounding for our own troubles. She teaches the reader to have the courage and strength to move on." Read on.
"At times transparent and vulnerable, at others, sinuous with history and the breath of the supernatural, the heart of Brynn Saito’s first full-length collection beats dangerously, exhilaratingly, close to the surface." Continuing reading Iris Law's review of The Palace of Contemplating Departure, published today in TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics.
A new essay on monks, meditation and martial arts in South Korea, now up on Killing the Buddha's website. "Sometimes it’s the case that monks form an army and fight," the piece begins. "This has happened periodically on the Korean peninsula, over the course of the last six centuries, as Buddhist monks emerged as soldiers, fighting invaders from nearby kingdoms or foreign aggressors from China and Japan." Read on here.
Thanks to the fabulous writers and poets, Lois Smith, Traci Brimhall and Tamiko Beyer for passing me the baton: they've answered a series of questions about their forthcoming work on their blogs, and they've called on me to do the same. Here it goes:
What is your working title of your book? The Palace of Contemplating Departure.
Where did the idea come from for the book? The book’s a collection of 42 poems; each one has a different origin story. But, the idea for the title for the book originated in the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco while I was wandering through an exhibition of photographs of the palaces in Seoul. I came across a picture of the Pavilion of Contemplating Departure in the Changdeokgung Palace and was immediately captivated by such a wistful name—so captivated that I journeyed to South Korea last month, for the first time, and I took my own photo of the book’s namesake.
What genre does your book fall under? Poetry.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I would want Bill Murray to play all of the parts, including the Palace.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? “A lyrical debut poetry collection of intimacy and quiet power, weaving stories of sudden departures, forced removals, and the chosen journeys in between.”
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? The book will be published by Red Hen Press, in March.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It took ten years and it also took two years. I’ve been working on a book of poetry for about a decade—compiling, revising, and discarding poems along the way. The current version came into fruition about two years before it was submitted for publication.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? Lots of things: wolves, knives, New York City, my sister, my ex-loves, moonlight, starlight, California, gardens, valleys, deserts, history, prayer, waiting, watching, running away, returning home, the Pacific Coast, the longest war, guns, and wonder.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? There’s a poem in the book written from the point of view of train tracks. And another one written from the point of view of a sunrise. Those are cool.
"This poem arrived at one of the oddest moments. I was in a hostel in Seville and I couldn't sleep because of the pressing summer heat. I didn't want to turn on the light and disturb my roommate, so I started writing in the dark..." [continue reading]