Xi Chuan’s newest, his second book in English, Bloom and Other Poems, has only been out for a matter of days, but already it’s received its first review!
Heather Green at the Poetry Foundation writes:
[Xi] Chuan’s poetry speaks, in Lucas Klein’s translation, in a vital, brash, and, at times, comic voice, paradoxically both cynical and idealistic. The collection opens with the long title poem, “Bloom,” a lush meditation that exhorts the addressee to:
bloom barbaric blossoms bloom unbearable blossoms
bloom the deviant the unreasonable the illogical
The poem’s “bloom” describes both a sexual unfolding—“I want to witness your nipples blooming your belly button blooming your toes blooming”—as well as a broader, and, in the poem’s terms, necessary, existential flourishing.
She also mentions how Xi Chuan “writes with pathos about life’s contraction in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic … joking about people putting facemasks on pets … before swerving into a more serious mode”:
There have been Chinese people getting beaten up on Sydney streets for wearing facemasks, or ordered to remove their facemasks by the police in Berlin. How can the naked mouths of Sydney and Berlin understand? This is our way of life and means of existence!
“The thrill of this collection arises from [Xi] Chuan’s charismatic voice,” Green concludes, “vividly rendered by Klein, and the unexpected turns from the intellectual to the sensual, from the absurd to the dead-serious.”
Click the image above to read the review in full.