Christine Kitano’s second poetry collection elicits a sense of hunger—an intense longing for home and an ache for human connection. Channeling both real and imagined immigration experiences of her own family—her grandmothers, who fled Korea and Japan; and her father, a Japanese American who was incarcerated during WWII—Kitano’s ambitious poetry speaks for those who have been historically silenced and displaced.
My mother calls them gahm,
savoring the round vowel.
When she pares off the skins,
They fall away like strips of ribbon.
Clusters of firm, waxy planets
slung low on a strained branch,
the tree a sudden stab of color
on the drab East L.A. corner.
The box arrives in fall, white
postal service cardboard wet
in the corners where the fruits
have already spilled their juice.
Faced with the open box, I think
my mother’s word, but aloud exclaim
the word in the only language I own.
“The poems in Sky Country sound far from home, stricken with homesickness, and saturated with longing. While they include both personal and collective history, they’re spoken in the voice of someone strangely alienated from the former and unaccounted for and excluded from the latter. Beautiful and moving.”—Li-Young Lee
“The poems in Sky Country weave, unravel, and stitch together history and time with such a fierce originality that the images buzz in the mind. Lyrically vibrant and sonically alive, Kitano’s gorgeous poems remind us that we are always linked to immigration, to the women that raised us, and it’s through our own language that we do the honoring.”—Ada Limón
“Christine Kitano writes with clarity and honesty about displacement, deracination, and cultural identity. Her poems in this book convey the dignity of the immigrant in America, the ‘sky country’ of the title. In one of the most moving of them, ‘A Story with No Moral,’ we can see that indeed there is moral depth to all that she writes. She expresses that depth when she affirms, in 'Autobiography of the Poet at Sixteen,’ ‘we are built for life, / for love, which means / we are built for pain.’ These poems are testimonies of survival and we need their witness as much as ever.”—Mark Jarman, author of The Heronry
“Kitano’s alluring, well-crafted poems are attuned to tragedy and loss, yet an element of wonder shines through.”—Publishers Weekly
“Combing cultural and personal history, Kitano is generous in revealing her family lore and the emotional politics of settlement and displacement. Meant to firmly focus and guide the reader, her poems point to the tragedies and triumphs of living in a world that creates us and destroys us, sometimes all in one day.”—Booklist
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2017