The First to Escape is that rare volume of contemporary poetry that carries the weight of its ancient and modernist predecessors while remaining passionately engaged with its own time. It plunges the heights and depths and a myriad of other directions with a multitude of facets, faces and voices. Multicultural, multiethnic, yes, but intimate, not exotic, with openings into surprising and mysterious familiarity. “Brilliant darkness.” What Clara Hsu renders here is a deeply moving and masterfully articulated musical language – a poetry that draws us into a conversation beyond ourselves, beyond any closed idea of self. This is vital work by a fully realized poet. —Jake Berry
Read Christopher Bernard’s review on The First to Escape here.
Travel with Clara Hsu, San Francisco poet and writer, to Morocco’s ancient D’jamaa Elfna Square. See how the local inhabitants open their hearts to a stranger. Discover a masseuse’s generosity, a sorcerous story-teller, an obliging old street musician, and the rectitude of a young girl. Visit a fatherless boy who must grow up quickly in order for his family to survive. Find out what Moroccan hospitality really means. Every moment a story unfolds. Beneath the veneer of a different language and culture, we savor the common bond of human connection.