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China III

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It is too much a part of things,
even though the source is not within.
In small American cities
with and without universities,
it keeps a constant presence
in the Confucian sense,
the inner arriving to match
the outer, spirit not separate
from matter (the latter illusion
left by the missions
the people have made such fine
use of). There are times
when you have to pretend
to embrace an idea or befriend
your adversaries. If constantly
misinterpreted, use the mystery
as currency. You have to start
somewhere. Be wise: depart
from where they’ve already put you.
A country itself can’t betray you.

Adrienne  Su, "China III" from Sanctuary. Copyright © 2006 by Adrienne Su.  Reprinted by permission of Manic D Press.
Source: Sanctuary (Manic D Press, 2006)
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China III

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  • Raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Su earned a BA from Radcliffe College of Harvard University and an MFA from the University of Virginia. She is the author of the poetry collections Middle Kingdom (1997), Sanctuary (2006), and Having None of It (2009). Her awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and residencies at the Fine Arts Works Center and The Frost Place.
    Commenting on her work for the National Endowment for the Arts website, she said that in terms of subject matter, she prefers “the daily to the exotic.” In Having None of It, this preference is evident in the focus on balancing motherhood and professional work.
    Su’s poems have appeared in the anthologies The New American Poets (2000), The Pushcart Prize XXIV (2000), and Asian-American Poetry: The Next Generation (2004).
    She teaches at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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