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Author: Mai Der Vang
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The 2016 winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, chosen by Carolyn Forché When I make the crossing, you could not be taken it doesn’t matter what the present offers. When we attain the camp, there will probably be hundreds like us. If I make it onto the aircraft, you could observe me to the roads and ready pastures of America. We won’t trip the water at this time on the shoulders of buffalo as we used to a few years in the past, nor will we forage for the sweetest mangoes. I’m refugee. You are too. Cry, however don’t weep. —from “Transmigration” Afterland is a strong, important assortment of poetry that recounts with devastating element the Hmong exodus from Laos and the destiny of hundreds of refugees searching for asylum. Mai Der Vang is telling the story of her family, and by doing so, she additionally gives a necessary historical past of the Hmong tradition’s ongoing resilience in exile. Many of those poems are written within the voices of these fleeing insufferable violence after U.S. forces recruited Hmong fighters in Laos within the Secret War towards communism, solely to desert them after that battle went awry. That historical past is little identified or understood, however the 300 thousand Hmong now dwelling within the United States live proof of its aftermath. With poems of extraordinary pressure and beauty, Afterland holds an unique place in American poetry and lands with a way of humanity saved, of concern, of a deep custom damaged by battle and ocean however nonetheless intact, remembered, and lived.
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