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Contraband of Hoopoe
Ewa Chrusciel

2014 • 104 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry / Poetry - Women Authors / Poetry - European

$17.95 Paperback, 978-1-890650-99-5

“[A] strange, mesmerizing fourth collection.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

An immigrant’s lyric narrative of humor, illicit revelation, insight, and desire

Contraband of Hoopoe explores issues of dislocation, immigration and desire. Chrusciel invents a poetics of smuggling as she crosses national, historical and linguistic borders. The migratory narrative is distinctly errant, haunted by a childhood lived under a Communist regime, by the austerity of Eastern block politics, and by the possibility of discovering a fleeting language to carry the seeds of illicit revelation, spiritual transformation, and insight. The book elevates smuggling to a noble art, recording how the Jewish people were hidden and transported during the Holocaust. Chrusciel tracks a series of historical objects and secret messages that immigrants throughout history have been sneaking through customs, past border checkpoints, and across the seas.

Reviews / Endorsements

“As Chrusciel’s poems lead us from modern airports to the immigration halls of Ellis Island, to the tunnels under the Warsaw Ghetto…. we experience the way the past settles in us as an invisible presence.”—Miriam O’Neal, Poetry International

The excitement one experiences reading the Polish and American poet Ewa Chrusciel’s new book is hard to describe. If one made an amalgam of Darwin, early Hejinian, Byzantine art, near Eastern books of wisdom, Ponge, Pavese, sacred Hopi and Amerindian texts, one still wouldn’t be able to come up with the magical contraband this vessel is carrying.”—Jorie Graham, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

“Chrusciel, an immigrant herself, challenges stereotypes throughout the book, revealing immigration to be at the core of social and cultural advancement.” —Christina Cook, Cutbank

“It’s not a difficult thing to think that at a poetry festival, you might hear a poem that piques your interest. It’s an entirely different thing to hear something– a way of offering words to a subject of already well-tilled ground in a fresh voice that makes you beeline to the bookfair area and snatch up the sole remaining copy of that poet’s book. And so it was that I met Ewa Chrusciel, first through her reading from A Contraband of Hoopoe... I’ve read this collection several times and each reading offers new nuggets of insight. At the heart of Hoopoe is a collection exploring the immigrant experience. This focus on immigrants coming to the U.S., feels particularly pressing and timely right now, one to be kept on the front burner.”
Annelies Zijderveld, The Food Poet

“Constructed as equal parts poetry collection, historical essay, thesis and travel journal, this is a complex and thoughtful collection….”—Rob Mclennan BLOG

"Words are multilingual migrants and they cross-pollinate constantly."—Rob Mclennan

EWA CHRUSCIEL has two books in Polish, Furkot and Sopilki, and one in English, Strata, which won the 2009 Emergency Press International Book Contest. Her poems have appeared in many journals in Poland, England, Italy, and the U.S., including jubilat, Boston Review, Colorado Review, and Lana Turner. She translated Jack London, Joseph Conrad, I.B. Singer, and several contemporary American poets into Polish. She is associate professor of humanities at Colby-Sawyer College.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:27:49 -0500