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Ragged Claws at HKU Museum and Galleries


raging claws



Prufrock the Destroyer, an Anthropocene Mutant arisen from the floors of silent seas…. From the HKUMAG site (with thanks going out to the excellent James Shea, Collier Nogues, and Chris Mattison):

About his talk, David says, “I’ve lived in Shanghai for over a decade now, and I’m fascinated not only by its storied past as a cosmopolitan entrepôt (not to mention its myth-in-the-making present) but also as a key site in the networked production of intensifying crisis – economic, geopolitical, environmental, global. My recent book of poems, Expat Taxes, emerges from this fascination with Shanghai at the (likely) dawn of the Anthropocene, as does my current project to explore and write about neighborhoods surrounding many of Shanghai’s 364 Metro stations as directed by pseudorandom processes that include a set of necessarily mistranslated English texts.”

David Perry has lived in Shanghai for over a decade. He is the author of Expat Taxes (Seaweed Salad/French [Concession] Press), Range Finder (Adventures in Poetry), Knowledge Follows (Insurance Editions) and New Years (Braincase Books). He teaches in the Writing Program at NYU Shanghai and holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Iowa.

Ragged Claws stages monthly discussions in Hong Kong about an element of poetic craft or practice. Ragged Claws is always an open event, and everyone is welcome. The name is taken from T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”


Shanghai International Literary Festival appearances


Jen Bervin’s Microscopic Silk Poems Meant to Live Inside the Body


I’ll be reading and speaking at two SILF events. First, Saturday 11 March at 2pm, with Austin Woerner and Nina Powles, I’ll be reading a few poems and previewing the Thursday 16 6pm reading and panel discussion with Jen Bervin, Wen Jin and Jen Hyde.

Thursday’s event has been long in the making, bringing Jen & Jen back to Shanghai. Jen Hyde’s wrote most of her first full-length collection Hua Shi Hua while doing a post-graduate fellowship at NYU Shanghai; she also organized a fantastic Jen Bervin talk on her Emily Dickinson projects. Now Bervin’s back in China, working with Charlotte Lagarde on her fantastic Su Hui’s Reversible Poem project (if you click through one link today, make it the this one).

The Thursday panel is shaping up less as originally conceived (a panel grappling with difficult questions surrounding Anglophone American writers “writing China”) and more as a panel on culturally complex poetry and art practice: Jen Hyde’s book includes drawings and arises from her interest in China’s paper and bookmaking traditions; Jen Bervin’s Su Hui work is a beautiful project involving silk, embroidery, poetry and the history of Chinese women as woven through all of the aforementioned; finally, my new aleatoric & algorithmic Shanghai Metro-writing project, 16 Lines, which marks my first foray into poetry that goes beyond “the page,” with its eventual form projected to be an interactive website (technical help from NYU Shanghai colleague Luis Morales-Navarro) that will generate hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of line-combinations in the spirit of both Su Hui (her poem can be read 7000 different ways) and Raymond Queneau with his Cent mille milliards de poèmes. We’ll be joined by Wen Jin, who will moderate the discussion and Q&A, bringing the perspectives and insight she’s developed as a scholar focused on the complex interactions between and among Chinese and US American literatures (see her book Pluralist Universalism: An Asian Americanist Critique of U.S. and Chinese Multiculturalisms).

The Saturday event came together quickly to fill a spot left vacant by a late cancellation. Austin, who happened to be coming to town, was happy to come read from his powerful translation of Ouyang Jianghe’s masterful Phoenix, an ekphrastic long poem written in response to Xu Bing’s massive phoenix sculptures. Nina, who I’ve gotten to know through her frequent attendance of the NYU Shanghai reading series I’ve been curating, agreed on the shortest of notice to read recent work; she’s a very active (and very good!) young poet making ‘zines and helping create an international poetry scene while studying Chinese at Fudan University. I’ll be reading some work from Expat Taxes and talking a bit about 16 Lines.


16 Lines... and counting

16 Lines… and counting


Not Your President

“Not my president.” The phrase need not be thought defiant or felt as performance of defiance. It’s merely observational. Descriptive.

Instead of subordinating himself to the position – or even pretending to – Trump subordinates it to himself. He overwrites the role with himself and in this sense he is not anyone’s president.

This is the authoritarian style.

He is the leader, the one, “the only one” who can rule, who can “fix it.” He will not serve but rules, he imagines. And much of what he has imagined has come to pass, of course. He intends to rule by his definition – one that shifts with whim and mood and that is driven by the bottomless need to assert his primacy and power – thus redefining and”fixing” the role of president.

As much as he loves to claim an imaginary landslide majority win – the biggest, the best – he intends to be the CEO or, as his adoring alt-right fanboys put it, God Emperor.

”Democracy” has nothing to do with it. He said he’d accept the election results if he won, and he has kept his promise: He accepts the Electoral College results but rejects the popular vote count.

He states it (likely tweets it, whatever redefinition of what’s“true” and“real” it may be) and at some point, so far, the state becomes him a little bit more, a little bit more, and with a sudden leap, a lot more, a lot more. The process is far from complete, but given how far and how fast he has come, and given his alt-right troll army’s successful freaking-of-the-norm(ies) via“meme magic,” it is imperative to move forward with the horizon of totalitarian Trump as the real possibility against which the anti-Trump thinks and defines itself. (Continued)

Target One

no thing clever to say isn’t nothing enough to have said and been done with (Continued)

Toward a Poetics of the Anthropocene

Abstract from NYU Shanghai Faculty Lecture, based on talk given at Fudan University, on poetry, poetics and the Anthropocene. I remain unconvinced in my own work, by my own work, and of it, and that’s perhaps the point, the point that can only be to keep working:

In The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, recent visiting lecturer Amitav Ghosh borrows a term from Timothy Morton to argue that events like climate change constitute “hyperobjects,” networked entities that too extensive spatially and temporally for our existing ways thinking and writing to comprehend adequately. Recent literary fiction, Ghosh argues, fails to engage with the new realities of anthropogenic climate change. This presentation extends Ghosh’s line of questioning to contemporary poetry and the Anthropocene, moving toward establishing a provisional historical and theoretical framework for a “poetics of the anthropocene” with examples drawn from contemporary poetry, including several of my own recent pieces, most notably “Hello 2015” and other work featured in my recent publication Expat Taxes.

David Perry poetry and the anthropocene Expat Taxes

“The Verses” and “What’s an Expat”

Richard Roundy continues to publish some of my long-time — and newly — favorite poets as poetry editor of the young webzine Across the Margin, and I’m grateful to join poets from Kit Robinson and Alan Bernheimer to Allison Cobb to Aaron Simon to Lewis Warsh and Paul Maziar, just to name a very few, with the second of two sets of poems.  “The Verses” is excerpted from the long poem “Hello 2015” (a good-sized chunk of which appeared in the April Brooklyn Rail), while “What’s an Expat” makes its debut; both appear the now-available collection Expat Taxes (also available on Amazon). Read “The Verses” and “Hello 2015” here.


Monika Lin, “Exemplars #7,” 2013, woodcut print, detail.

Expat Taxes

David Perry - Expat Taxes - poetry

Cover image and design: Monika Lin

Expat Taxes is officially out and available on Amazon and via Seaweed Salad Editions. The book collects poems written over the past decade of living in Shanghai and is anchored by the long poem “Hello 2015” (a chunk of which The Brooklyn Rail published last April).

The original plan was to publish “Hello” as a chapbook, but we soon realized that a number of short poems — some of them published in little magazines, others not — worked well with the longer piece. The book is part of the larger French (Concession) Press project.

This publication also marks the resumption of the Seaweed Salad Editions project, which will expand to publish poetry, alternating between bilingual editions of poetry in translation and volumes of innovative new writing in English (or perhaps better put, one of the many Englishes in currency circa now).

It’s a low-key affair, this publication. At present, I’ll be reading from the book at a launch event in Guangzhou at APTW 2016, celebrating alongside the authors of two other new books, Joshua Ip (Singlish poetry!) and Alexandra Gregori. A Shanghai event is in the works, as is a spring Shanghai International Literary Festival poetry group event. If the health, money, and travel gods smile upon me, there may also be some late spring/early summer readings in the US.

Good to have work that’s been sitting around for a while out, and better to have it out with fresh work. Best to be looking ahead to building Seaweed Salad into a full-blown small press! Any poets or poetry translators or poet-translators interested in future plans for publication of books of poetry in translation, inquire via the Seaweed Salad site. We’ll be starting with a Chinese language poet but beyond that, opening things up. There will be more on future publication plans coming this fall. Stay tuned….

And last and not least, deepest thanks to my partner in life, work, art, and writing, Monika Lin, without whom this book would not have happened.

“Nike Vapor Lunar Trout” and “The Johns”

Richard Roundy has been publishing some of my long-time — and newly — favorite poets as poetry editor of the young webzine Across the Margin, and I’m honored to join poets from Kit Robinson and Alan Bernheimer to Allison Cobb to Aaaron Simon to Lewis Warsh and Paul Maziar, just to name a very few, with the first of two sets of poems. “Nike Vapor Lunar Trout” is in the forthcoming collection Expat Taxes; “The Johns,” written in collaboration with Noah Eli Gordon (his version appears in his book The Word Kingdom in the Word Kingdom).

Monika Lin, Balance Boy #1 detail, 2010.

Monika Lin, Balance Boy #1 detail, 2010.