Language for a New Century is a symphonic sweep of beckoning cries, praises, prayers, curses, ruminations and revelations. An ensemble rich with diverse voices, here the old and the new converge, and something wholly human and futuristic emerges—something that possesses a robust lyricism—shining its light, its illuminated certainty into the twenty–first century. This marvelous anthology assembles a multitude of voices intent on a purposeful, deep singing.
Read Language for a New Century as you would a field guide to the human condition in our time, a poetic survival manual. . . . If, as Milosz wrote, "posterity will read us in an attempt to comprehend what the twentieth century was like," then this collection will be read to know the beginning of the twenty-first.
Among contemporary poetry's most notable trends is a post-9/11 surge in translation. The blockbuster anthology published during the past six months is Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry From the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond, devotedly compiled by Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal, and Ravi Shankar.
This rich collection of poetry gives the reader a feeling of the pulse of the East and is a good guide to the human condition in our time. It makes available to the West part of humanity's poetry that is often overlooked or relegated to literary specialists, and it highlights the oneness of the human family and its desires, fears, and hopes. It is a good addition to the series of Norton anthologies and similar works and, together with them, it helps bring world literature closer to becoming better known and more fully appreciated.
The fact that there were three different editors with different tastes strengthens this anthology by allowing for an even more diverse array of poetic styles and sensibilities. Language for a New Century possesses the beauty of a freshly assembled five-thousand piece jigsaw puzzle. I highly recommend Language for a New Century, which I think is an essential work for anyone, and not just anyone interested in Asian-American poetry, to have on their bookshelves.