An Ordinary Day
An Ordinary Day
2001 Jane Kenyon Chapbook Award
Translated by Keith Waldrop with Wang Ping, Iona Crook, Hil Anderson and Janet Tan
“The poems contain both autobiography and a kind of universal biography—in a profound way, they weep, and sing, for us all. “These poems insist upon their right to be heard, shoulder aside any number of slender books of poetry that cross the reviewer’s desk, and raise the possibility that we are in the presence of a poet who will give his generation a sense of purpose . . . An Ordinary Day is a revelation of the possibilities of contemporary poetry.”
Available in both print and digital formats.
Born in Beijing, Xue Di has since shortly after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, been a Visiting Fellow in Brown University's Freedom to Write Program. His poetry books include three translations in English: Circumstances, Heart Into Soil, and Flames;and three in Chinese: Hui Yi (Remembering), Chan Li (Trembling), and Meng Yi (Dream Talk). Also in Chinese, he published a criticism of modern Chinese poetry, and has edited several Chinese poetry anthologies. He is the two-time recipient of the Hellman/Hammett Award.
“Xue Di’s poems are like snowflakes that dissolve, yet burn, on the tongue. Poems of solitude, poems of exile, poems of longing—you hear the cry of things irrevocably twisted.”
“‘Crack the world to its core, you’ll find a poem.’ The ordinary world Xue Di refracts is a landscape across which we are forced from end to another, moved by an exquisite and soulful acknowledgement of human evil and the urgency of living counter to evil. The extraordinary poems he fashions startle, and they insist themselves into us through masterful imagery and a voice we trust and come to revere. ‘Will my perplexities be resolved?’, he asks in one poem, and it becomes clear that any answer comes from journeys like his that take us as far into human possibility as they do.”
“Xue Di writes about personal loneliness and the loneliness of what he elsewhere calls ‘this pestilential century’ in poems that proceed, often without transition, through startling sequences of juxtaposed images. An Ordinary Day is both carnal—the body is always involved in his thinking and feeling—and audacious in its insistence on sentiment as the marker of memories, the essential medium for human relationships. These poems are, themselves, ‘Fields of flowers opened by light.'”
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