In her artist’s statement, Karen Rigby (NER 24.2) explains the title of her new book of poetry, Chinoiserie, winner of the 2011 Sawtooth Poetry Prize from Ahsahta Press:
Most of the time, chinoiserie is read in terms of 17th-century decorative arts, especially European attempts to draw from Chinese influences in household goods or furnishings. The book does not take a literal route, though there is certainly a bric-a-brac sensibility to the topics.
Instead, chinoiserie is interpreted loosely—as an elaboration, something imagined miles from its origins to become its own translation of landscape, texture, and pattern. The word evokes the fanciful as well as a darker potentiality, disrupting boundaries between tribute and theft, reinvention and repetition. What is “borrowed” from another art or culture (in this case, paintings, films, poetry itself . . . ) comes with expectation, but also complication. Even danger.