Splintered Mirror

Donald Finkel, Translator, Carolyn Kizer, Translator North Point Press $25 (128p) ISBN 978-0-86547-448-2
The poets featured in this well-translated collection are writers of a style known as Misty poetry, so called for the blurriness of the poems' themes, a vagueness intended to subvert the social realist aesthetic enforced by the Chinese state. Many of these poems deal--some sketchily, some more overtly--with the oppression of the Chinese people by their government, pk either by concentrating on an isolated incident or by constructing broad, encompassing metaphors. In Bei Dao's ``Testament,'' the speaker is about to be executed by a firing squad, but the reader is not told why. Duo Duo's ``Untitled'' conveys the fear of authoritarianism's iron hand in a more abstract way: ``In this pitch-dark, desolate city / again the red terror begins / its savage hammering.'' Although these poems effectively capture various moods and feelings of a citizenry denied its freedom, the poets' often lazy rhythms and hazy imagery leave no lasting impression upon the reader. More memorable are those works in which the poets' calm, peaceful voices ponder the loss of love, as in Gu Cheng's lovely ``Parting,'' or the longevity of love, as in Shu Ting's glorious ``The Singing Flower.'' (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
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Paperback - 101 pages - 978-0-86547-449-9
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