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The Past (Paperback)

P&S History > Humanities > Poetry

Imprint: Wesleyan University Press
Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
Pages: 104
ISBN: 9780819580467
Published: 7th September 2021
Casemate UK Academic

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Elegiac and searching, poems written in the long shadow of immigration

 

The poems in Wendy Xu's third collection, The Past, fantasize uneasily about becoming a palatable lyric record of their namesake, while ultimately working to disrupt this Westernized desire. Born in Shandong, China, in 1987, Wendy Xu immigrated to the United States in 1989, three days ahead of the events of Tian'anmen Square. The Past probes the multi-generational binds of family, displacement, and immigration as an ongoing psychic experience without end. Moving spontaneously between lyric, fragment, prose, and subversions in "traditional" Chinese forms, the book culminates in a centerpiece series of "Tian'anmen Square sonnets" (and their subsequent erasures), to conjure up the irrepressible past, and ultimately imagine a new kind of poem: at once code and confession.

 

"Tian'anmen Sonnet" (dead air in air ... )

 

Dead air in air

The anniversary of language

holds you back against

bucolic dreaming, down stream

from here is running

a miraculous color, elegy

 

bursts like a ribbon in air

Thinking again of the Square today

Bold sky, passing episodes of cloud

Vegetation mutters in the Far West

 

A column of ghosts

going violet over time

Familiar song looping overhead

Lines pressed in air

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