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Two Menus
by Rachel DeWoskin
University of Chicago Press, 2020
Cloth: 978-0-226-68217-4 | eISBN: 978-0-226-68220-4
Library of Congress Classification PS3604.E927A6 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | REVIEWS | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
There are two menus in a Beijing restaurant, Rachel DeWoskin writes in the title poem, “the first of excess, / second, scarcity.” DeWoskin invites us into moments shaped by dualities, into spaces bordered by the language of her family (English) and that of her new country (Chinese), as well as the liminal spaces between youth and adulthood, safety and danger, humor and sorrow. This collection works by building and demolishing boundaries and binaries, sliding between their edges in movements that take us from the familiar to the strange and put us face-to-face with our assumptions and confusions. Through these complex and interwoven poems, we see how a self is never singular. Rather, it is made up of shifting—and sometimes colliding—parts. DeWoskin crosses back and forth, across languages and nations, between the divided parts in each of us, tracing overlaps and divergences. The limits and triumphs of translation, the slipperiness of relationships, and movements through land and language rise and fall together.

The poems in Two Menus offer insights into the layers of what it means to be human, to reconcile living as multiple selves. DeWoskin dives into the uncertain spaces, showing us how a life lived between walls is murky, strange, and immensely human. These poems ask us how to communicate across the boundaries that threaten to divide us, to measure and close the distance between who we are, were, and want to be. 

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