Synopses & Reviews
Night garden, moon
calendar, soft mint scent.
Warm wind, silent. Gold,
Jeffrey Yangs second collection of poems is an exploration of the various lines—horizon line, time line, blood line, poetic line—beyond which so much vanishes from sight, from memory. With historical documentation, lyrical association, and artistic virtuosity, Yang creates a collage of elegies, losses that are private and those that define our nation. Vanishing-Line is an ambitious book by one of the most fascinating new poets in America.
"Admirers of Yang's crisp, polymathic, and widely praised debut, An Aquarium, might be surprised by the scope of his second effort, whose seven longer poems build into their free verse all manner of lengthy quotations as they try to answer the words and deeds of American, Asian, and Middle Eastern history. These works take distant models from Ezra Pound's Cantos. Mesopotamian excavations show 'wall after wall of conquest// power's assurance/ tradition of self-glory,' where 'captives in animal skins/ spoils in transport, foodbearers// carry the baskets.' In 'Yennecott,' Dutch and English colonial-era records of Indian wars and genocide mingle with Algonquin legends of Great Turtle and 'sky-/ woman,' with accounts of the poet's own travels, and with found texts (Whitman and Dickinson among them) that seem to ask if present-day Americans can see through, or into, accumulated guilt. Yang (an editor at New Directions) tries to find forms tight enough to seem original, but loose enough to encompass the horrors of our still recent past; his attempts are leavened, and brightened, by moving family elegy set in East Asia and by the scenes and moments in which Yang seems to see just where he stands. The collection should get further attention thanks to Yang's forthcoming translation (slated for U.S. appearance in spring 2012) by the Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Jeffrey Yang is the author of An Aquarium. He is an editor at New Directions Publishing Corp. and lives in Beacon, New York. His translation of the Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobos June Fourth Elegies is forthcoming.