What We Bring Home
by Susan Coultrap-McQuin
Scheduled Release Date: Oct 15, 2021
In What We Bring Home, Susan Coultrap-McQuin reflects on what she has learned about herself and the world by venturing beyond American shores, first as a young Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines during the Vietnam War and years later as a tourist in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Her elegantly crafted poems invite the reader to travel with her, to see anew the sights of Southeast Asia, and to confront the ambiguous truths of cross-cultural interactions. In image-rich poetry, Coultrap-McQuin ponders how history and culture have shaped her views and experiences. Like the souvenirs we bring home, these poems speak to the heart of who we are and why we venture to distant shores.
In What We Bring Home, Susan Coultrap-McQuin examines in precise, elegant verse, what it means to be an American traveler. Her poems are compassionate, intelligent witnesses asking us, what can we learn from the past? Some poems speak to the beauty of finding oneself at home in a foreign landscape, dust coating my shoes/ like everyone else’s. Other poems demonstrate the difficulty of visiting places such as Vietnam where the wounds of American warfare still fester, and Cambodia where ghosts haunt the field of bone fragments,/ the pieces of blue cloth,/ poking from bare ground. In this collection, we can trust our speaker to not look away from harsh reality or her own complicity. These poems are as beautiful as they are fierce. A wonderful debut.
—Amie Whittemore, author of Glass Harvest
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