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My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree: Selected Poems

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One of China’s most significant contemporary poets, co-translated by former US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith Yi Lei published her poem “A Single Woman’s Bedroom” in 1987, when cohabitation before marriage was a punishable crime in China. She was met with major critical acclaim—and with outrage—for her frank embrace of women’s erotic desire and her unabashed critique of oppre One of China’s most significant contemporary poets, co-translated by former US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith Yi Lei published her poem “A Single Woman’s Bedroom” in 1987, when cohabitation before marriage was a punishable crime in China. She was met with major critical acclaim—and with outrage—for her frank embrace of women’s erotic desire and her unabashed critique of oppressive law. Over the span of her revolutionary career, Yi Lei became one of the most influential figures in contemporary Chinese poetry. Passionate, rigorous, and inimitable, the poems in My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree celebrate the joys of the body, ponder the miracle of compassion, and proclaim an abiding reverence for the natural world. Presented in the original Chinese alongside English translations by Changtai Bi and Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Tracy K. Smith, this collection introduces American readers to a boundless spirit—one “composing an explosion.”


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One of China’s most significant contemporary poets, co-translated by former US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith Yi Lei published her poem “A Single Woman’s Bedroom” in 1987, when cohabitation before marriage was a punishable crime in China. She was met with major critical acclaim—and with outrage—for her frank embrace of women’s erotic desire and her unabashed critique of oppre One of China’s most significant contemporary poets, co-translated by former US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith Yi Lei published her poem “A Single Woman’s Bedroom” in 1987, when cohabitation before marriage was a punishable crime in China. She was met with major critical acclaim—and with outrage—for her frank embrace of women’s erotic desire and her unabashed critique of oppressive law. Over the span of her revolutionary career, Yi Lei became one of the most influential figures in contemporary Chinese poetry. Passionate, rigorous, and inimitable, the poems in My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree celebrate the joys of the body, ponder the miracle of compassion, and proclaim an abiding reverence for the natural world. Presented in the original Chinese alongside English translations by Changtai Bi and Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Tracy K. Smith, this collection introduces American readers to a boundless spirit—one “composing an explosion.”

57 review for My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree: Selected Poems

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jana

    This is my 3rd subtext poetry subscription book from Elliott Bay Book Co. This is a challenge and a struggle. Again, I took my time and read most of these twice. But sometimes I just do not feel it. Then I turn to a two page poem called Mother. And I’m shattered. I think I’m getting better at reading poetry.

  2. 4 out of 5

    HJ

    This was such a beautiful collection of poems filled with desire and defiance. I just wish there were more poems for me to read, or at least the ability to read Chinese and put the English translation side-by-side with the original. I found the way translation worked out for this collection fascinating, with Changtai Bi providing the direct translation from Chinese to English. Tracy K. Smith steps in to provide a more poetic translation that had a similar aura of the original. As a result, the w This was such a beautiful collection of poems filled with desire and defiance. I just wish there were more poems for me to read, or at least the ability to read Chinese and put the English translation side-by-side with the original. I found the way translation worked out for this collection fascinating, with Changtai Bi providing the direct translation from Chinese to English. Tracy K. Smith steps in to provide a more poetic translation that had a similar aura of the original. As a result, the words may not seem faithful to the original, but I appreciated the care Smith put into each poem to evoke what Yi wanted. It was clear that this translated collection was essentially a conversation between Smith and Yi, as though they were dancing together to draw out a particular musicality from words that were in harmony with the subject matters. I imagine the original poems had a particular melody and rhythm to them, since Smith’s co-translated poems had a near-singing quality to them. The repetition of words also created a particular rhythm throughout the collection that made for an immersive experience.

  3. 5 out of 5

    christina

    “I waited day and night for summer to gather me in its net. Waited for my wrongs to be sloughed away. One night, in a storm, I swallowed thunderbolts and fallen flowers. Now my soul is broken but fragrant. Nobly, I proceed, my bright hair overgrown as weeds.” An absolutely stunning collection, translated with such depth n care.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I loved the first half of this collection. The second half not as much. I read them on different nights. Could that have mattered? The concept of translation here is fascinating. Smith created new "versions" of the poems from literal translations. I wish I could read in both languages! Quotes (not formatted) "I envied Yi Lei's ability to claim the fact of that love, and to embrace the joy and upheaval it led to without apologizing for it or turning against it...." (ix) "'Love is innocent,' she said. I loved the first half of this collection. The second half not as much. I read them on different nights. Could that have mattered? The concept of translation here is fascinating. Smith created new "versions" of the poems from literal translations. I wish I could read in both languages! Quotes (not formatted) "I envied Yi Lei's ability to claim the fact of that love, and to embrace the joy and upheaval it led to without apologizing for it or turning against it...." (ix) "'Love is innocent,' she said." (x) "But—to stumble into you, or you into me—wouldn't it be sweet? In reality, I keep to myself. You keep to you. We have nothing to rue. So why does remorse rise almost to my brim, and also in you?" (5) Between Strangers "I don't yet know what to want, what I will be called on to grieve, but I know this bliss will leave." (15) "It is tempting to believe something significant is ending. It is." (18) "My body, now, is like a paper sack that has been crumpled and smoothed flat, creased every which way and packed with sorrow." (19) "But how can I be a woman if he is a child? What can come of that union?" (23) "Solitude is great (but I don't want greatness)." (24) "But desire is a new trick, a ride along a slick ridge in a little car whose brakes have long since given way." (63) 12. Lost I lost myself on an unnamed day. I was stumped, hunting myself down And turning up only remnants: dusty books, Their revelations rancid, love letters On yellowed paper. I got close many times, But my tracks were faint, crisscrossed By countless others. My breath was everywhere. But I was nowhere. I got so tired I couldn't lift my feet, Had to lie beneath the sky Until I was drained of memory. Then I felt it. Me. The earth gave. The sky Poured through me. I encompassed eternity. I'm boundless.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ganise C

    “I had been dreaming of dancing—just us two, Here, where threat is the very weather And tragedy a soaring currency. [...] I want to feel Civilization flourish and fall. And I want to live to tell.”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Therese Okraku

    Amazing collection! Such a joy to read and learn about the history of these beautiful poems. Thank you Elliott Bay Bookstore for the introduction via your poetry subscription box!

  7. 5 out of 5

    sidney

    romantic, gentle, flowing. so good!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    "Loving you shed light on the catastrophes of history" "Loving you shed light on the catastrophes of history"

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt Miles

    These beautiful poems capture nature, desire, frustration with self, desire for freedom, and anguish of oppression with equal deft elegance. These poems are or should be considered classics.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shaniyah Webb

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jack C. Buck

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  13. 5 out of 5

    Soph

  14. 5 out of 5

    Janel

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Scobie

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lakis Fourouklas

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Wang

  20. 5 out of 5

    raysilverwoman

  21. 4 out of 5

    XD

  22. 4 out of 5

    Scissor Stockings

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alexa L.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeannette

  25. 4 out of 5

    Wistful

  26. 4 out of 5

    October Hill Magazine

  27. 5 out of 5

    Milosh Sokolikj

  28. 4 out of 5

    Meg

  29. 5 out of 5

    V

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Ward

  31. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

  32. 4 out of 5

    Nej

  33. 5 out of 5

    Caedra

  34. 4 out of 5

    Clio

  35. 4 out of 5

    Christina Li

  36. 4 out of 5

    bookster95

  37. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Růžková

  38. 4 out of 5

    Kasia

  39. 5 out of 5

    Louise

  40. 5 out of 5

    Lyndsey Silveira

  41. 5 out of 5

    Jen

  42. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  43. 5 out of 5

    J

  44. 5 out of 5

    Niki Wang

  45. 4 out of 5

    CJ

  46. 5 out of 5

    Dana Sweeney

  47. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

  48. 4 out of 5

    Jay

  49. 4 out of 5

    Peter Green

  50. 4 out of 5

    Melon109

  51. 4 out of 5

    Brennan

  52. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  53. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  54. 5 out of 5

    Manon「マノン」

  55. 5 out of 5

    Emily Jane

  56. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

  57. 5 out of 5

    Núria Costa

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