Forest of Names (Paperback)
He carried no iron into battle.
When he lifted his hand,
he brandished the sky.
How do we honor the dead? How do we commit them to memory? And how do we come to terms with the way they died? To start, we can name them. When schools collapsed in an earthquake in China, burying over 5,000 children, the government brutally prevented parents from learning who had died. Artist Ai Weiwei, at risk to his own safety, gathered the names of these children, and their names are the subject of this book. Each poem is a poetic meditation on the image and concept suggested by the etymology in the Chinese characters. This act of poetic translation is both a heartbreaking tribute to people whose names have been erased, and a healing meditation on how language suggests a path forward.