I Can Almost See the Clouds of Dust
Considered a representative figure of the post-1970s Chinese poets, Yu Xiang is part of a new generation of contemporary Chinese poets following in the footsteps of the Obscure (otherwise known as Misty) poets and the post-Obscure writers. If identification is indeed a shadow act of figuration, Yu Xiang does not care for any post-age or post-modern label. Her response toward specific social or political realities in China during these recent years differ from her predecessors' during their respective epochs, in the sense that she does not necessarily depict them from an oblique stance. She does not merely dwell in ambiguities, contradictions and ambivalence. Nor does she present her work as a purely journalistic understanding of the downtrodden: impoverished villagers, traumatized mothers who lost children during the collapse of tofu-skin schools during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Instead, she depicts characters with a comparative eye--not just as a witness--but also from the starting point of having felt a feeling, an epiphany.
Unafraid of going near politically radioactive realities and histories, Yu Xiang is least interested in scoring ideological points, or telling her side of a narrative, be it as an artist or a social critic.
At first read, each of Yu Xiang's poems comes across as an intimate address with a personal touch. Through poetry, she seeks a specific reader and listener, while being a reader and listener herself. She is interested in peeling silence with verses.
Fiona Sze-Lorrain writes and translates in French, English, and Chinese. Her recent translation work includes Wind Says (Zephyr Press)--collected poems of Bai Hua.
Yu Xiang's poems are the poetic equivalent of shoegazer rock. She takes the mundane--a whiff of cigarette smoke, a falling leaf, a housefly--and stares at it so intently that it splits open to reveal something unexpected. -- Naomi Long Eagleson, wordswithoutborders.org
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