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Lions Roar : July 2018
TRICKSTER FEMINISM By Anne Waldman Penguin Poets 2018; 160 pp., $20 (paper) Long-time Vajrayana Buddhist Anne Waldman has had a distin- guished career. She’s the author of more than forty books and has won numerous awards, including the 2012 PEN Center USA Award for poetry. She’s also a professor of creative writing and poetics at Naropa University where, with the late Allen Ginsberg, she cofounded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets. As a poet, Waldman is highly experi- mental; her language is by turns sensual and lush, pointed and playful. Trickster Feminism, Waldman’s new collection, is a rich exploration of how we can escape the straightjacket of gender norms and assumptions. Some of the poems were actually written in the streets while Waldman was engaged in protest. I suggest reading these dense, intertwined poems with a cup of tea, just letting the beauty of the words wash over you. Then read them again and discover their many lay- ers of meaning. SINGAPORE DREAM AND OTHER ADVENTURES Travel Writings from an Asian Journey By Hermann Hesse; translated by Sherab Chodzin Kohn Shambhala Publications 2018; 160 pp., $16.95 (paper) Hermann Hesse was born in 1877 to a German family that had established missions in India. Though they were devout Christians, they kept Indian artifacts as souvenirs, and these fired the imagination of the young Hesse. Finally, as an adult, he travelled to Asia himself, and this journey eventually inspired him to write the novel Siddhartha, which has introduced the Buddha to generations of Americans and Europeans. The account of his travels, Singapore Dream and Other Asian Adventures, is composed of twenty-one eyewitness reports, a clutch of poems, and a story—most of which has never before been translated into English. Hesse is very much— and disappointingly—of his time as his writing has a repellent racist thread. But his language is rich and evocative, and it’s interesting to see how, despite his prejudice, Hesse is deeply moved by Buddhist statues representing enlightened mind, or as he puts it, “the wrinkle- less serene smoothness of the countenance of the Perfect One.” ♦ LION’S ROAR | JULY 2018 79