Book Fair



Joseph Farley. Longing For The Mother Tongue. March Street Press. ISBN 1-59661-148-0.  31 pages /$ 9.

Longing for the Mother Tongue was first published in the July / August 2009, Vol. 4, No. 4 issue of Sketchbook.

About Joseph Farley

Joseph Farley received a B.A. from St. Joseph's University and an M.A. from Temple University. He edited The Axe Factory Review for 24 years. He is the author of a short story collection, For the Birds. His poetry books include Suckers and The True Color of You.


If language is a common bond between diverse peoples, conversely, language can also be a gulf separating men from themselves. In his new book, Joseph Farley explores the
great divide between two vastly different cultures: the American and the Chinese. The poems adroitly examine the isolation a foreigner feels in a largely, alien land. His
poignant "Eye of the Beholder" contrasts the native denial with regard to the brutality of Tiananmen Square with his American sensibility of outrage and horror. And yet, despite
all our innate separateness, somehow, we manage to come together, longing for the native tongue.

~Alan Catlin

Say one day you wake to find yourself a stranger in a strange land, a curiosity, golden haired, among a sea of black hair, stripped of all comfort, alone with a language no one else understands. Joseph Farley has long been at ease gallivanting through the margins, but this suite of poems takes him more than a few lengthy strides across the border and into a land of beauty and uncertainty—much to our delight.

~Louis McKee

Joseph Farley in Longing for the Mother Tongue transports us to the Jiangxi Province in China, where he spent an extensive sojourn and where not much more than the sun setting, the feel of wind, and comfort of clouds were familiar. In sparse words, haiku-like images, and sharp insight, he shares with us the joys and challenges of the Chinese landscape and people and of being an American in a non-English–speaking culture. Readers who have traveled to such places will say, "Yes, this is exactly how it is," and those who haven't will feel as though they have after reading this fine and thought-provoking collection.

~Ellaraine Lockie



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