Mai Cheng

Mai Cheng - Selected Poems


Mai Cheng - Selected Poems

Paperback, 140pp, 9x6ins

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Translated from Chinese by Denis Mair.


A bilingual collection by Dalian-based poet-editor, Mai Cheng. This is the first collection of his work to be made available in translation.

With Mai Cheng's poetry, the art is like the man, approachable yet fresh and, although unassuming, he still manages to arouse our emotions. Almost every poem tells an ordinary story, but this is poetry, so the ‘story' will be out of the ordinary …the connection between reality and imagination forms a sort of network of human feelings and recollections, so that when you read them you do not have a feeling of lonely, sombre aloofness; Eliot's Waste Land has no place in the verse of Mai Cheng, so that even talking in one's sleep is nothing to be frightened of; so much so that when the poet mourns the death of a close friend, it appears absurdly ridiculous. This take on ordinary contemporary life—far from being a loss, I believe this is the main melody of the works of Mai Cheng, a poet of this age. —Lee Ou-fan (Leo Lee)

Mai Cheng is a small city with a somewhat symbolic significance in Chinese literary history. Symbolising what? It would seem to have some connection with loss. He opposes loss, he accepts loss, he comes to terms with loss, as a result of which he becomes the end point and the starting point of loss …now, this rather small Mai city has finally moved to the coast …there the air is fresh, the old customs still survive, it is quiet and solitary, and at night, perhaps, there is sometimes the fragrance of alcohol wafting on the air, as the dim light of calcium carbide lamps flickers through one's drunkenness. —Yu Qiuyu

When you read Mai Cheng's poems, you are liable to experience a laughing tone which has been concealed, cunningly, beneath the surface. This comes half from his secret investigation into life and human nature, and half from language when it is seeking to express the principles of happiness that he secretly follows. From one point of view, his relationship with happiness is  to "charge ahead into the middle of loss", & making this the price for the acquisition of special privileges; from another point of view, he has sought from the very beginning to learn control, but he never abuses this privilege. His work continuously preserves a light-hearted, essentially harmonious nature, but from start to finish there is a passionate internal debate. He would seem to have no regard for the conventional limits of the poetic, but he rarely falls into a disorder that cannot be remedied. He has calmly but firmly placed the anvil of his poetic art in the space between saying too much and disclosing secrets, between the investigations of life and the cure of aesthetics, in order to forge his individual poetic voice. He manages the risks he takes with language with consummate ease. —Tang Xiaodu


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