Asians in the Diaspora: The Journey, Not the Destination


A longtime copy editor at the Voice and a teacher at NYU, Luis H. Francia, a Filipino, puts forth Museum of Absences, a volume of always visceral and subtly metaphysical poems, in which the personal and the political throb with equal passion. Keeping three languages alive in his head infuses his verse with rich musicality. The poems range across subjects from fairy tales to rock ‘n’ roll to contemporary crises. Francia has invited fellow poets Meena Alexander and Patrick Rosal to join him in reading from his collection. Sharing the bill is one of Hong Kong’s leading English-language writers, Xu Xi, whose heritage is Chinese and Indonesian. She has also lived and worked in New Zealand and the United States, and her new collection of stories and essays, Overleaf Hong Kong, reflects, as Francia’s poems do, the mental and emotional processes of multilingual Asians in the diaspora. Short and searing, many of the stories end at the moment before disaster. Made of simple sentences, they cherish the observed moment and seem more invested in journeys than in destinations. Reading them on the bus, I missed my stop.