Bloom & Other Poems

Xi Chuan. New Directions, $17.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-0-8112-3137-4

The tender, wry latest from Xi Chuan (Notes on the Mosquito) examines the very nature of complexity: “Who can provide a decent explanation,” one poem inquires. It is the question at the heart of many of these poems, which poke and prod at the increasing polarization of society, culture, politics, and art, as well as the startling juxtapositions of daily life. There is humor in his critique (“The boat on the river is leaking, and the repairists and the sinkists are fighting”), as well as moments of disarming sadness (“Some people read so as to abandon books in the end and so abandon themselves”). In a world where “even the trash can is golden,” these poems are on the lookout for intrinsic, holistic meaning. “Bloom like a fool,” one advises. Xi Chuan “fight[s] a death match against the world” that might not find poetry or complexity useful or meaningful, but these pages insist on the value of poetry, and of living a life steeped in the beauty of the world. (June)
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