Sam Moginie Reviews Breaking New Sky: Contemporary Poetry from China

By | 10 November 2014

Keeping on with the natural, Hu Xian’s poem ‘The Orchard’ chronicles the axioms of its environment: apples understand death, skies understand distribution. It’s Rankin-esque, mixing the sensory and the metaphysical boldly, and striking for this. Consider lines like:

The sky is so blue 
it does not allow people to be too greedy 
—meanwhile the clouds pile up
like the flesh that grows in the body

Another star is Yue Xuan, a ‘fifth Grade student’, represented by strong, short poems about relationships: between a cat and a snowman, or horses and hay, or squirrels and a glove. Each poem is a dark tableau, like emo Basho/Calvin and Hobbes. The sound patterns in ‘A Snail’s Shell’ are worth highlighting, too; they add a bounce that compounds the sweetness of the poem’s premise:

At the bottom of a dry well
There is a snail’s shell, worn down with years
The snail is gone
But the shell still has its own mission
As it assumes that the snail is still alive

This anthology creates a taste for such gems that, in turn, creates a demand – for more gems, and for full-length collections by these poets. Eagerly await them, reader.

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