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Across Borders

Xue Di

A bi-lingual edition, translated from the Chinese, with a Preface and Afterword by Alison Friedman

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Xue Di
Across Borders
Series No.: 204
ISBN: 978-1-55713-423-3, Pages: 143
Chinese Literature, Poetry

The Chinese poet Xue Di came to the United States immediately after the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 in Beijing, becoming writer-in-residence at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and was a fellow in Brown's Freedom to Write Program.

Born in Beijing in 1957, Xue Di is the author of three volumes of collected works and one book of criticism on contemporary poetry in Chinese. In English translation, he has published three full-length books, Another Kind of Tenderness, An Ordinary Day, and Heart into Soil. He has also published four chapbooks, as well as publishing poetry in numerous American journals and anthologies as well as being translated into several other languages.

In his newest book, Across Borders, Xue Di writes marvelously rich prose poems on a large variety of "things"--in the sense of the French poet Francis Ponge's Le Parti pris des choses--both specific and abstract. From highly poetic confrontations with "Shadow," "Music," and "Bubbles," the poet faces very specific and contemporary concerns such as an "Eatery," a "Gift," and a longer work on "Blue White Water."

Xue Di's work literally shimmers with dream-like detail as he struggles with the world around him: "Flustered, I start to look for a place to murder my shadow" ("Shadow") or "On Main Street fingertips grab at each other. Finger nails' / faces venomously drop to the ground" ("Images"). In the works of Across Borders it is as if the poet was tactilely experiencing everything about him, resulting in emotional and temporary instability. In his very honest expression of his fears and terrors, however, Xue Di reaches out to all of us: "I weep. My poems grasp for others like me--if but to hold them."

What the poet has said of his earlier book, Heart into Soil, is equally true for this powerful new collection: "It is about understanding a journey of my inner life, covered by daily details, and layers of emotion, a record of visioning outwards--in contrast to when I lived in a communist society and was visioning inwards--as I live [now] in a free country. It is about understanding the connections and knots within a man in relation to societies and time."

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