Yang Lian has been hailed as one of the most innovative and influential of Chinese poets. This collection certainly supports that view. The poems are mostly collages in form, with images and phrases playing against each other, sometimes with no instantly obvious connection. Careful reading though means that the images together have a very powerful cumulative effect. Many of the images and phrases come from the natural world, including: 'autumn vibrates between nows like a crazy musical instrument' which I used as the inspiration for this poem.
There is a haunting sense of mystery in a lot of the poems, which often seem fairly surreal and sometimes sinister:
twelve kinds of self reaping harvests move into refrigerated sky (from Schloss Solitude)
on ocean's map......marbles secretly constructed like revenge (from The Transmigration of Gardens)
flocks of concrete birds......cover your timeless window (from Constructed Ground)
This isn't easy poetry, but nor is it wilfully obscure. It deserves patient reading and re-reading, which will reveal it to be inspiring and meditative.
It feels perhaps a bit like a Chinese Puzzle Box, talking of which, many thanks to Paul over at Gingatao for sending me a copy of 'The Puzzle Box' his collection of poetry and prose, which I will say more about once I've read it, probably over at Over Forty Shades.