What
Why
Where

This anthology celebrates the

artistic and cultural forces

that have flourished in the East, presenting multifarious poets who have rewritten tradition and broadened world literature. We've attempted to include a broad selection of established and emerging

South Asian,

East Asian,

Middle Eastern,

Central Asian

poets

as well as poets living in the Diaspora. We've brought together

over 400 diverse voices

, native and transplanted, political and apolitical, monastic and erotic, known and unknown, in the hope of providing

insights that transcend

any narrowly defined strata of Eastern culture. We hope that gathering these voices raises awareness of the abundance and variety of poetry produced in these regions. These poems share

a vision of humanness

and a devotion to the transformative power of art, irrespective of ethnic or geographic background.

Read more about the conception, production, and reception of the book at:
http://www.thevolta.org/ewc38-tchang-rshankar-nhandal-p1.html

Following the events of the

September 11th, 2001

, two of us, Tina Chang and Ravi Shankar, began asking ourselves with whom did we identify? Though we grew up keenly aware of our Chinese American and Indian American backgrounds respectively, we began to feel an even deeper solidarity between ourselves and others of Eastern descent. How could we respond to the

destruction and unjust loss

of human lives while protesting the

one-sided and flattened view of the East

being showcased in the media? What was the vantage point we could arrive at in order to respond on a human level, to generate articulate dialogue, conversations that did not fall into the rhetorical fallacies of us vs. them? As poets and editors, we desperately sought to find a solution, though there was no solution.

There was, however, a distinct path to choose and that was one of further understanding. What we turned to was what was most innate to us: poetry, which provided the impetus for beginning this project. Rather than focusing on our own personal reactions, we felt that looking outwards towards a

wide spectrum of poetry

would give us the opportunity

for discovery and transformative wisdom

. Putting together an anthology seemed the necessary path. We sought the expertise of a third editor and found Nathalie Handal who had just published the groundbreaking anthology, The Poetry of Arab Women and was herself of Arab descent. After speaking to her, we knew that we had found the right person because the way in which she spoke about the project was so similar to our own vision. Together, we set out on a

journey to gather voices

that add to the ongoing dialogue between East and West.

We considered how to

define the East,

a challenging task

since there is no general consensus as to what defines the region. Initially, while reflecting on what countries to

include

, we sat down with an atlas and realized that if we were to be true to our intention of

inclusiveness

, we had to deal with a much wider region than we might have presupposed. For instance, Central Asia has generally been neglected and left out of most discussions of the East; therefore, it was important for us to

include

those poets. Other countries are also considered part of two distinct regions, such as Sudan, which is both Middle Eastern and African. We might not have

included

some countries that readers or critics believe to be part of the East and we might have

included

others that some might question, but ultimately our intention was to provide as comprehensive a view as possible.