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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