LA Review: Canyon in the Body

But it’s not just this slice of small village life that makes Lan Lan’s poetry so compelling. Her elusiveness and uncertainty also thrill. Lines are in constant contradiction, her images the stuff of dreams: “My loosened hand holds you tight / The door is shut for you to pass.” There is both recognition and something that escapes our grasp here.

This fragility ends up being a strength. Lan Lan does not shy from self-criticism or doubt. In the beautiful, fragmentary “A Few Grains of Sand” she tells us:

Sometimes I just can’t understand my steamed bun my rice and the dust on these bookshelves.

I kneel. My ego bends.

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