Released: April 28, 2016
This second edition of nomad of salt and hard water is evidence of how language that is fixed, as in a traditional publication, or unmoored, as in this new and revised edition, is made up of malleable meaning. Over time our relationship to language changes. While Cynthia Dewi Oka's thematic concerns—displacement and exile, the weight of identity and its inevitable fragmentation, and what she eloquently calls difficult beauty—remain, her language needs have shifted, and the resulting book is both ambitious and seemingly effortless. Because of course poems can adapt.
nomad is Oka's response to the conventions and commodifications of poetry; it is a search for a more resilient text. As she outlines in her introduction, when the original version of nomad sold out, Oka saw it as an opportunity to "honor a longing for refuge with the audacity to set out again in search of its source" by reengaging with the original work. nomad of salt and hard water is an essential new book. It is what happens when a poet listens to her poems.
"Starting with the redaction of Rilke's verse, Cynthia Dewi Oka's revision goes beyond a line here, a comma there. In the 2nd edition of Nomad, Oka places us in the middle of a textual journey, a reexamination of the self, a labor intensive that extends beyond any wage legislated by patriarchy and fake liberalism. Oka has revisited her body (of work) with an intentional force that reclaims our losses and a skin-shedding so necessary that it redefines poetry. The lyricism in Oka's poetry is enough to split a canonical rock open." —Willie Perdomo
"Each line in Nomad of Salt and Hard Water is a careful, but definite step. These poems dream about the tension (and the reckoning) against colonialism and the post-apocalyptic, but there is a deep sensuality and wonder at what can be saved. Oka's mythmaking creates a landscape that calls on nature, the power of women, and the idea of writing and rewriting on the palimpsest of the destroyed and those reclaiming their power. Imagine putting Nomad of Salt and Hard Water on the shelf with Cha's Dictee and Audre Lorde, Barbara Jane Reyes, and Cathy Park Hong." —Tara Betts
"These poems are dazzling perceptive dream-songs strung out on a bridge crossing countries of land and ocean. They are built to hold loneliness, heartache, and the promise of happiness. These beautiful, intuitive poems are how language emerges in a faraway tongue, when it appears to have been left behind."—Joy Harjo