Carcanet Press Logo
Quote of the Day
I'm filled with admiration for what you've achieved, and particularly for the hard work and the 'cottage industry' aspect of it.
Fleur Adcock


Jay Gao

Cover of Imperium by Jay Gao
10% off all versions
Categories: 21st Century, BAME, China, First Collections, LGBTQ+, Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (92 pages)
(Pub. Aug 2022)
£11.99 £10.79
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Aug 2022)
£9.59 £8.63
To use the EPUB version, you will need to have Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) installed on your device. You can find out more at Please do not purchase this version if you do not have and are not prepared to install, Adobe Digital Editions.
  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Winner of A Somerset Maugham Award 2023
    Winner of An Eric Gregory Award 2023
    Winner of the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize 2023
    Longlisted for the Anglo-Hellenic League Runciman Award 2023

    By reimagining episodes from Homer's Odyssey, Jay Gao's highly anticipated debut collection, Imperium, introduces an innovative talent whose work cuts across poetic traditions, traversing mythic cartographies and imperial formations. Exploring forms of absolute and intimate power, Imperium is an imaginative meditation on how the past lives on in the present by way of, and beyond, a global poetics of diaspora.
    Jay Gao is the author of three poetry pamphlets: TRAVESTY58 (2022); Katabasis (2020), a winner of a New Poets Prize; and Wedding Beasts (2019), shortlisted for the Saltire-Callum MacDonald Award. He is a Contributing Editor at The White Review . Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, he earned his MFA at Brown University, ... read more
    Awards won by Jay Gao Winner, 2023 A Somerset Maugham Award
    Winner, 2023 An Eric Gregory Award
    Winner, 2023   The Michael Murphy Memorial Prize
    Long-listed, 2023 The Anglo-Hellenic League Runciman Award (Imperium)
    'Bold and ambitious, Jay Gao's Imperium demonstrates the eruption of a singular voice and wit... Gao's debut emerges as an unforgettable read in these changing and pluralistic times.'
    Shalini Sengupta, Poetry School
    'With astonishing virtuosity, Imperium unpicks the very notion of virtuosity, and excellence, the inheritances of empire that dominate any idea of what poetry might be or aspire to be. Gao's talent sings and singes so heroically and deliciously across this mournful, provocative, desirous and subversive book.'
    Colin Herd, Gutter Mag
    'An askance and enthralling book'

    Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman

    'A prodigiously assured new voice... This rich hinterland of knowledge is never fusty, always alive.'

    Fiona Sampson, The Guardian

    'This is an elaborately resourceful book, driven by a wittily self-conscious and politically savvy comic brio, satirical about its staging of its very counter-imperial animus, a powerful and febrile text.'

    Adam Piette, Blackbox Manifold  

    'Nuanced, challenging, sometimes hilarious, often anguished, this impressive reimagining of The Odyssey makes for an unforgettable road trip; Gao's Odysseus is a nervy and compelling traveller, a sort of non-hero, itinerant and always somewhat lost. Waylaid with Gao in hotel bars and tour buses, we are estranged, sensitized as we go to the dislocations and non-belonging of children of the world's diasporas, and also to the structures of appropriation and exploitation embedded in travel. We are all conditioned and implicated; but perhaps this acute and attentive Odysseus is exactly who we need to help us listen to the buried histories of Imperialism, to "wait a little differently, mourn a / little more".'

    Fiona Benson

    'These poems reject the heroism of the legible "I". If a central figure emerges it might be that of the Anti-Translator, not there to disclose personal information but to reveal the bareness of our "corpse-lives". Jay Gao's Imperium marks a new chapter in British poetry, bringing to bear a new complexity, richness of thought and influence.'

    Will Harris

Share this...
The Carcanet Blog From Base Materials: Jenny Lewis read more Goddamned Selected Poems: Stanley Moss read more Diary of an Invasion: Oksana Maksymchuk read more The Strongbox: Sasha Dugdale read more Not a Moment Too Soon: Frank Kuppner read more Coco Island: Christine Roseeta Walker read more
Find your local bookshop logo
Arts Council Logo
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2024 Carcanet Press Ltd