Enriched by a lifetime of travel across the United States and Asia, Karen Swenson exposes local genius and folly—in all its moral ambiguity—with sardonic humor, pathos, and hope. In A Daughter’s Latitude, Swenson combines new poems with work from four previous volumes, including the 1993 National Poetry Series winner, The Landlady in Bangkok. Tough-minded yet accessible and good-spirited, this thirty-year retrospective highlights one of the most original and engaging poets writing today.
“Karen Swenson is a woman of valor, an intrepid solo traveler to odd and often perilous corners of Asia. She has visited the political prisons of Laos and North Vietnam where, as the unofficial emissary of PEN, she visited writers jailed for their unofficial views… Wherever she has been, Ms. Swenson has taken with her an invisible mission: poetry.” —Wall Street Journal
“These captivating poems create an international journey… Swenson’s willingness to be immersed in the many cultures she encounters results in poems far removed from America or its influences.” —Bloomsbury Review
“Swenson anticipates bad behavior from Westerners, whether in a remote Malaysian village or on the front porches of Fargo, North Dakota. Unfortunately, she’s rarely disappointed. Swenson also writes for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and her work combines a journalist’s attention to detail with a keen narrative intelligence and an unmistakable, lyrical voice. Well worth exploring.” —Ed Skoog