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.
Xue Di was born in Beijing. He is the author of four volumes of collected works and one book of criticism on contemporary Chinese poetry in Chinese. In English translation, he has published four full length books, Across Borders, Another Kind of Tenderness, An Ordinary Day and Heart into Soil, and four chapbooks, Forgive, Cat’s Eye in a Splintered Mirror, Circumstances and Flames. His work has appeared in numerous American journals and anthologies and has been translated into several languages. Xue Di is a two-time recipient of the Hellman/Hammett Award, and a recipient of the Lannan Foundation Fellowship.
“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. In any event, An Ordinary Day is a revelation of the possibilities of contemporary poetry.”
—The Providence Journal
“The poems in An Ordinary Day demanded to be written. They depict a lonely, beautiful terrain between (and including) China and the United States, and convey a sense of exile that is powerful and urgent. Throughout the collection, Xue Di’s voice is consistent, singular, and clear.”
“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.'”
More by the author: