April 30th, 2013 – A poetry reading by Wing Tek Lum
Poet Wing Tek Lum will be reading from his book, The Nanjing Massacre. Wing Tek Lumʼs poems capture all perspectives of this 1937 tragedy—from the weary, casually cruel Japanese soldiers to the uncomprehending child victims, and from the desperate, helpless parents and the brutalized “comfort women” to the bloodless yet vicious bureaucrats of death. Drawing on published histories, memoirs, photographic collections, and oral histories, Lum composes testimony after testimony for the silenced—poetic memorials that also provide “some measure of revenge” against the victors. At key moments, he also broadens the frame of reference, linking the crimes in China to the atrocities committed since then at different times, on different continents. Massacres, he suggests, bear a family resemblance—the human family. But The Nanjing Massacre is much more than a chamber of horrors. Lumʼs spare and meticulous verse offers up vivid, memorable, and even beautiful images, and many of the poems are mini-narratives, suspenseful and compelling. The result is a gallery of disturbing portraits that nevertheless move us through their artistry and truth.
Wing Tek Lum is a Honolulu businessman and poet. His first collection of poetry, Expounding the Doubtful Points, was published by Bamboo Ridge Press in 1987. With Makoto Ooka, Joseph Stanton, and Jean Yamasaki Toyama, he participated in a collaborative work of linked verse, which was published as “What the Kite Thinks” by Summer Session, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, in 1994.