Grace Cavalieri Reviews Linda Watanabe McFerrin's "Navigating the Divide"
The Maryland Poet Laureate took special care reviewing Watanabe McFerrin's new Legacy Book for her review column in the Washington Independent Review of Books.
Every month for the Washington Independent Review of Books, the Maryland Poet Laureate, Grace Cavalieri, author of Other Voices, Other Lives, does a round-up style review of the best recently released independent books of poetry and books about poetry.
June 2019's review features fourteen books including two of ASP's upcoming releases, Reuben Jackson's Scattered Clouds and Linda Watanabe McFerrin's Navigating the Divide. Featured also are the likes of Tina Chang, Dobby Gibson, and rising star Sri-Lankan poet Indran Amirthanayagam whom Grace interviewed recently for her podcast "The Poet and The Poem" (recorded at the Library of Congress).
Read the full June 2019 round-up HERE on the WIRoB site
Below is Grace's Review of Navigating the Divide
McFerrin is author of poetry, travel essays, prose, and stories excerpted for this compendium.
The travel essays got me started. The first that I read, “Strangers,” was the hook. McFerrin has the gift of dialogue and character. She’s also a sexy writer, and a good soul wrapped in a hot body. Her characters are the kind of humans who seem to travel just to meet, and every paragraph is a psychological encounter in visual explorations; also, some social norms get destroyed. This is a compelling edge to the stories. We feel every word she says, because she knows that the details we can taste, smell, and see, are impossible to turn away from. Each essay is a relevant cultural experience with all the intriguing values of a foreign place. I read her as I often watch TV in search of sights I’ll never see otherwise. The added pleasure with McFerrin is she’s “Sex and the City abroad” — fun, chic, with special effects. It’ll take a while reading this book and so it goes on vacation with me — nowhere as fantastic as where McFerrin takes us, however. She’s mastered her art. To be a beautiful hypnotic writer is not a bad thing. She’s a front runner. Check it out.
Alan Squire publishers had a terrific idea here. Why not publish a kind of book no other literary publishing house seems to do? And so we have the Legacy Series that presents writers who write in more than one genre. The value of this publishing enterprise is that it brings America up to what Europeans and others have been doing for years — crossing genres is common for some writers who want to stretch beyond the normal glide, but we were apparently still “Publishing Puritans” in this country, insisting on packaging types of writing within single covers. Alan Squire jettisons this and is contributing to the industry and the national literary canon.
Linda Watanabe McFerrin is a poet, travel writer, novelist and contributor to numerous newspapers, magazines and anthologies. She is the author of two poetry collections and a winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. Her novel, Namako: Sea Cucumber, was named Best Book for the Teen-Age by the New York Public Library. In addition to authoring an award-winning short story collection, The Hand of Buddha, she has co-edited twelve anthologies. Her latest novel, Dead Love (Stone Bridge Press, 2009), was a Bram Stoker Award Finalist for Superior Achievement in a Novel.
Linda has judged the San Francisco Literary Awards, the Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence and the Kiriyama Prize, served as a visiting mentor for the Loft Mentor Series and been guest faculty at the Oklahoma Arts Institute. A past NEA Panelist and juror for the Marin Literary Arts Council and the founder of Left Coast Writers, she has led workshops in Greece, France, Italy, England, Ireland, Central America, Indonesia, Spain and the United States and has mentored a long list of accomplished writers and best-selling authors toward publication.