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In Thailand it is Night
Winner of the Anita Claire Scharf Award
In Thailand It Is Night reminds us that poetry holds both nostalgia and instructions: we dream of the future while wearing the garments of our fathers. Ira Sukrungruang’s new collection is surprising and clear at every turn. –Stephen Kuusisto
In Ira Sukrungruang’s In Thailand It Is Night, the afterlife is where the streets bustle with the sounds of a backfiring motor and where the surprise of peacocks in the middle of the city fan out their blues and greens despite the strangeness of the paved walkways. Within, Midwest winters are warded off by palpable memories of home while the complexities of love and the world are recollections blossoming from the mind as dogs howl “at the bitten moon.” A vast statue of Buddha houses wintering birds in its ears. Their songs are Sukrunguang’s poems which travel the curved path from the brain into the heart. –Oliver de la Paz
To read the poems in In Thailand It Is Night is to encounter a speaker who knows that poetry lies deeply embedded in the body, and in the litany of breath itself. Sukrungruang has limned an extraordinary collection couched in the broken language of immigration and the mystical language of reincarnation, a book that is as dreamy as it is resolute. Deeply rooted in the landscape, these poems define emotion using the riches of the natural world: finches and cranes and crows, geckos and tree frogs and cardinals and moths—these creatures weave longing, memory, and family into an intricate, lyric-narrative web. “My palms are up,” writes Sukrungruang, and this gesture signifies how open his poetry is to the world, to the simultaneous beauty and suffering it brings.” –Erika Meitner
Ira Sukrungruang received the American Book Award for his previous collection of essays published by the University of Tampa Press, Southside Buddhist. He is the author of the memoir Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy, and a collection of short stories, The Melting Season. He is also co-editor of two anthologies on the topic of obesity: What Are You Looking At? The First Fat Fiction Anthology and Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology. His first collection of poetry, In Thailand It Is Night, won the Anita Claire Scharf Award and was published by the University of Tampa Press in 2013. His work has appeared in many literary journals, including Post Road, The Sun, and Creative Nonfiction. He teaches in the MFA program at the University of South Florida. For more information about him, please visit: www.buddhistboy.com.