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Poems by Bei Dao

Bei Dao

Translated by Eliot Weinberger and Iona Man Cheong

Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (128 pages)
(Pub. Mar 2006)
Out of Stock
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    Leaving Home

    The compass jokingly
    points toward a state of mind
    you drink up the soup and leave
    this scene of life

    on the application form of
    sky and electric wires, a tree
    trembling to fly
    so what can it write about?

    no matter what happens, you’ll
    recognize the danger
    a crowd of strangers sitting
    at journey’s end

    at night the wind steals bells
    the long-haired bride
    quivers like a bowstring
    over the body of the groom

    Translated by
    Eliot Weinberger and Iona Man-Cheong

    The sixth collection by China’s foremost contemporary poet, Bei Dao, was greeted as perhaps his finest on its publication in America. The 49 poems were written in the USA, and have been translated into English by Eliot Weinberger (the distinguished essayist and translator of Octavio Paz and Jorge Luis Borges) in collaboration with the historian Iona Man-Cheong and with Bei Dao himself. Saturated with startling, surreal imagery and oblique political references, this book shows the restless development in style which is the hallmark of the authentically innovative poet.

    Bei Dao
    Bei Dao (the pseudonym means ‘north island’) was born in Beijing in 1949. Educated into the beliefs of Communist China, his subsequent disaffection found its voice in poetry, for which he has been nominated for the Nobel Prize on several occasions. Since 1989 he has lived first in Europe, then in ... read more
    Eliot Weinberger
    Eliot Weinberger ’s first study of multiple Chinese translations was the perennially popular 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei (1987). His essays are collected in Works on Paper, Outside Stories and Karmic Traces . Among his many translations are The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz 1957–1987, Bei Dao’s ... read more
    Iona Man Cheong
    Iona Man-Cheong is an Associate Professor of History at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. ... read more
    Praise for Bei Dao 'The language of Bei Dao's memoir, seamlessly translated by fellow poet Yang, is elegantly simple and guilelessly accessible....Winter white cabbage, vinyl records, pet rabbits, banned books, and first and last 'I love yous'€ provide intimate glimpses that 'open up'€ to reveal extraordinary, immediate testimony of challenges survived in a life intensely lived.'
    Booklist of City Gate, Open Up (US edition, published by New Directions)
       'This is a nuanced account of China in the era of the Cultural Revolution, seen through one young man'€s eyes. Since that young man became a poet, it is also beautifully textured, full of the sounds, sights, and scents of a Beijing that is no more.'
    Publishers Weekly of City Gate, Open Up (US edition, published by New Directions)
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