Translated by Joshua Edwards and Lynn Xu. Chinese writer Lao Yang's PEE POEMS go deep and dark—with deceptive lightness—into the metaphysical and the social, offering insight and humor along the way. Written over the past decade, this iconoclastic collection is the first of Yang's to be translated from Chinese into English.
PEE POEMS is comprised of meditations, fragments, lyrics, and aphorisms, in dialogue with Chan hermit poets and Zen tricksters, with radical grassroots activism, experimental music, and Dada. Yang regards the body's most basic functions and desires as philosophical problems, restoring garbage and bladder-control to the field of politics, inhabiting both epochal and local time. In PEE POEMS vocabulary fights itself, while impossible opposites are lovingly conjoined.
Joshua Edwards and Lynn Xu, poets both and friends of the author, translate Yang with brave tenderness, revealing a thinker whose observations are as simple and as rich as the languages we speak.
"In the mythos of Chinese ethnogenesis, the sage king Yu countered the great flood by diverting it into rural irrigation. The contemporary Chinese poet Lao Yang adopts a more irreverent strategy for liquid transport, urination (with an emphasis on the nation). This apocalyptic book reads like the waste journals of a survivalist on the run from carnivorous leviathans, God, and the Chinese state. Calling to mind the work of Raul Zurita and Kim Hyesoon, Yang's PEE POEMS consist of crystalline scatalogy, expressions of a profane piety. I can't quite recall reading another poetry book that felt simultaneously this elemental and funny."—Ken Chen
"In these irreverent poems, we see a fearless spirit in confronting the darkness and absurdity around the poet. An extraordinary collection."—Ha Jin
"Burrowing trinkets of sound and fury, these poems shoot inward like velvet claws, evoking a courageous loneliness and despair that spits out flowers in return."—Rob Mazurek
"These poems eat themselves. There's nothing for me to say. Nonetheless I send them to everyone I know. They're all shaking their heads saying this is so good. These poems are so good I can't point, I can only send them out. They are out there. Truly, yay."—Eileen Myles
"These crisp, lean and clean words of Yang conjure up a landscape situated in uncertain times and with movable spiritual boundaries. Determined to resist the powerful tides of propaganda from political and commercial life, Yang's poems here, like his struggle in the real world, intrigue, provoke and challenge simultaneously."—Zhang Er
Poetry. Asian & Asian American Studies.
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Lao Yang was born in northeastern China. He founded one of China's first independent advocacy spaces dedicated to experimental music and sound art in Beijing. A recipient of a Jean-Jacques-Rousseau fellowship, he was a resident at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, and has performed his own work at venues and festivals around the world.Author City: BEIJING CHI
Joshua Edwards was born on Galveston Island. He's the author of several books, including THE DOUBLE LAMP OF SOLITUDE (Rising Tide Projects, 2022), Architecture for Travelers (Editions Solitude, 2014), and Imperial Nostalgias (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013), and he translated María Baranda's Ficticia (Shearsman Books, 2010). He coedits Canarium Books.Author City: USA
Lynn Xu was born in Shanghai. She's the author of two full- length collections Debts & Lessons (Omnidawn, 2013) and And Those Ashen Heaps That Cantilevered Vase of Moonlight (Wave Books, forthcoming), as well as two chapbooks, June (Corollary Press, 2006) and Tournesol (Compline, 2021). She coedits Canarium Books and teaches at Columbia University.Author City: USA