Magnolia 木蘭

Poems

ISBN:
9781953534217
Pub Date:
08/16/2022
List Price:
$16.95
Page Count:
104
ISBN:
9781953534279
Pub Date:
08/16/2022
List Price:
$16.95
Page Count:
104

Finalist for the 2021 RSL Ondaatje Prize

Finalist for the 2020 Forward Prize for Best First Collection

Magnolia 木蘭, Nina Mingya Powles’ exquisite debut poetry collection, pushes the borders of languages and poetic forms to examine memories, myths, and the experiences of a mixed-race girlhood. From Aotearoa to London, from Shanghai to New York City, these poems journey across shifting, luminescent cities in search of connection: through pop culture, through food, through vivid colors. Scenes from Mulan, Blade Runner, and In the Mood for Love braid together with silken tofu and freshly steamed baozi. At the heart of the collection is “Field notes on a downpour,” a lyrical sequence that questions the limits of translation and our ability to understand one another. Alone, the speaker recognizes that “certain languages contain more kinds of rain than others, and I have eaten them all.”

Full of hunger and longing for a home that can embrace a person’s complexities, Magnolia 木蘭 draws on every sense to arrive at profound, yet intimate insights, and introduces readers to a brilliant new voice in poetry.

Praise

  • Nina Mingya Powles’ Magnolia 木蘭 emerges out of the scalloped terrain of cinema, portraiture, dreams, and translation in which lush decay exists alongside hunger. The seemingly distant and intimate are violently reversed, splitting flesh to reveal Shanghai as the site of an expanding record of global selfhood and home. Sharpness and lightness entombed like the ‘loam-eyed wolf-flowers’ calling back from silence, stillness, death, and life.

    —E. J. Koh, author of The Magical Language of Others and A Lesser Love

  • Rarely has a poetry book given so much to savor: in learning a language, in considering a film by Wong Kar-wai or Hayao Miyazaki, in biting a persimmon, in reading a subway map, in wandering the labyrinths of Eileen Chang’s Shanghai, flying through time and space. The language in Nina Mingya Powles’ Magnolia 木蘭 is so alive it generates tastes, sensations: ‘bundles of sticky rice wrapped in leaves, freshly steamed’ becomes ‘heat rising up between us.’ I long wanted to stay in the deep universe of this book after it was over.

    —Sally Wen Mao, author of Oculus