~ Poet: Paisely Rekdal ~

What Day, from “West: A Translation” by Paisley Rekdal

Salt Lake City-based filmmaker Jennilyn Merten collaborated with Utah’s former poet laureate, Paisely Rekdal, on an online video installation for Rekdal’s cycle of poems West: A Translation,

a linked collection of poems that respond to a Chinese elegy carved into the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station where Chinese migrants to the United States were detained. “West” translates this elegy character by character through the lens of Chinese and other transcontinental railroad workers’ histories, and through the railroad’s cultural impact on America.

West connects the completion of the transcontinental railroad with another significant American historical event: the Chinese Exclusion Act, which passed thirteen years after the first transcontinental’s completion.

This is What Day, which was also featured at Terrain.org. It’s the one that works best as a stand-alone film, in my opinion. Rekdal also has a 20-minute video on YouTube of her reading from the collection.

West: A Translation is slated for publication in book form by Copper Canyon Press in May 2023.