lash Cards is a primer of modern Chinese daily life—constructing a complex philosophical vision from swatches of daily events and observations. As Yu Jian has written about his own work, “It is possible to see eternity—to see everything—in a teacup or a candy wrapper. Everything in the world is poetry.”
Born in Yunnan province in 1954, Yu Jian contracted pneumonia at age two, which left him partially deaf in one ear. He once wrote, “it has made me accustomed to understanding the world through my eyes instead of talking with others. I have had to create ‘inner ear’ for myself.” He came to poetry early, first being exposed to classical Chinese poetry by his father, and then starting to write his own free verse at 20. While working in a factory during the Cultural Revolution, he became an avid reader and was deeply influenced by the poetry of Walt Whitman. He has cultivated a direct and simple style in his poetry, partly in opposition to the grand and often inflated language of Maoist-era poetry. Flash Cards is his first full collection to appear in English.
Ron Padgett is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and was named an Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government. He received the Shelley Memorial Award in 2009 from the Poetry Society of America. His translations include The Complete Poems of Blaise Cendrars.
Wang Ping is the author of several books, including two volumes of poetry (Of Flesh & Spirit and The Magic Whip), a novel, two collections of short stories, and the cultural study Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China. Her book of stories, The Last Communist Virgin, won the 2008 Minnesota Book Award and the 2007 Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies.
Flash Cards, by Yu Jian
from Chinese by Wang Ping and Ron Padgett
ISBN 978-0-9815521-3-2 (trade paper)
6 x 8
168 pages [bilingual Chinese/English]
Finalist for the 2011 Best Translated Book Award for poetry.
Read reviews of Flash Cards in World Literature Today.
Ron Padgett—a major poet whose sympathies are collegial and up for the resonant task— and native born Chinese poet Wang Ping have done an inspired job of transmitting this sharp-edged yet achingly poignant work. In their care, Yu Jian’s particular sensibility pierces through a dark age.