Evelyn Lau’s new book of poems, A Grain of Rice, picks up on some of the themes she covered in her last wonderful book, Living Under Plastic. Once again she honours people, in particular family, and the past; the presence and importance of nature in urban spaces; the influence of other writers on her life and in her career as a writer.
A Grain of Rice includes a passionate suite of poems that pay tribute to John Updike’s life and work (he is the writer who has most influenced her writing career).
Many of the poems in A Grain of Rice, her sixth book of poetry, are haunted by the deaths of friends and family. They explore cultural history, stories in the news, travel and place — especially the relationship between home and our nomadic inclinations. In many respects the book is a meditation on loss. Grief and aging, family history, an attention to place. poems on local urban social issues; poems that seek and find their inspiration in Asian culture and literature — all form a tapestry of faces that simultaneously defy and embrace the inevitable and celebrate the transformational.