This week the 3% blog is highlighting all 6 BTBA Poetry Finalists one by one, building up to next Friday’s announcement of the winners. This review of Notes on the Mosquito is by BTBA poetry judge Jennifer Kronovet. It begins:
When I had the chance to meet the Chinese poet Xi Chuan at a conference on translation in Beijing, I asked him about the choice to write prose poems. Prose poems make up approximately half of Notes on the Mosquito, his selected work translated by Lucas Klein. He responded that years ago, an artist asked if he would write a poem in relation to a photograph of someone washing with a plastic wash basin. He told this artist that he did not know how to write about plastic basins, only wooden ones. Prose was a way for Xi Chuan’s poems to step outside of the imagery and language of traditional Chinese poetry and reenter with a different idiom and perspective. Xi Chuan’s prose poems are nodes of intense and felt thinking in relation to China’s present, expressed in a voice that is starkly contemporary and layered with history. Form and voice in Xi Chuan’s work feel like rooms where impossible thinking explains everything. In one poem he writes:
“In a crowd of people some people are not people, just as in a flock of eagles some eagles are not eagles; some eagles are forced to wander through alleyways, some people are forced to fly in the sky.”
Read the whole review by clicking here or the image above.