How dull to have a gun and not shoot. Guns should be fired.

Fu Yuli / Nicky Harman

Jade Ladder, review

There are comparable excitements to be experienced throughout Jade Ladder, which samples the work of over 50 poets – ranging from internationally well-known figures such as Bei Dao and Yang Lian to writers still in their 30s. WN Herbert's informative and witty preface rightly urges readers simply to hurl themselves into the poems, but while many will be glad of work that lives up to the bracing injunction to stop making sense, it's helpful to have some idea of what the points of departure are, and to read Yang Lian's introduction and the various accompanying essays by the poet-critic Qin Xiayou on lyric, narrative and so on, as well as Brian Holton's engagingly irascible closing essay on the opportunities and pitfalls facing the translator.


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