A Tower Built Downwards (Paperback)
A Tower Built Downwards is the latest instalment of poetry from one of the most innovative and influential poets from China.Before and since his enforced exile from 1989, Yang Lian has been widely hailed in America and Europe as a highly individual voice in world literature, he has been translated into many languages.
The different sections – short poems, sequences, and one long poem – form a single comprehensive statement of Yang’s recent explorations. It is rooted in his living experience of the historical retrogression of Hong Kong, the disaster of Covid-19, the global spiritual crisis, as well as his personal sadness at events such as his father’s death.
Yang Lian's work was criticised in China in 1983 and formally banned in 1989 when he organised memorial services for the dead of Tiananmen while in New Zealand. This edition of A Tower Built Downwards contains the full, unabridged collection, including poems that were removed for its publication in China.
About the Author
Yang Lian was one of the original Misty Poets who reacted against the strictures of the Cultural Revolution. His work was criticised in China in 1983 and formally banned in 1989 when he organised memorial services for the dead of Tiananmen while in New Zealand. He was a Chinese poet in exile from 1989 to 1995, finally settling in London in 1997, also living for some periods in Berlin. Translations of his poetry include five collections with Bloodaxe. He is co-editor with W.N. Herbert of Jade Ladder: Contemporary Chinese Poetry (Bloodaxe Books, 2012), and was awarded the International Nonino Prize in 2012.
"Those lonely Tang dynasty poets may be Yang’s original blues brothers, but he’s as much a modernist and symbolist in the vein of Mallarmé or Rimbaud […] Yang Lian’s work is rooted not in geography but in his own imagination to exist in Yang’s lines can be a gorgeous but frustrating adventure." — Tim Kindseth, Time Magazine
'In Narrative Poem, Yang Lian turns his first-hand experiences of these man-made catastrophes […] into a radically strange montage.Narrative Poem would read as elegiac except that we are repeatedly made to regard that mode as premature […] This is what Yang Lian calls a ‘poem’s affront’. Harm does its thing—and if it then doubles back to do it again, so too must poetry. Both will get there at the same time.' –Nan Z. Da Times Literary Supplement
‘Yang Lian is one of the most ambitious poets writing in Chinese today – indeed, one of the most ambitious poets writing in any language…Narrative Poem represents a stunning achievement of both poet and translator, bringing the two together almost as one.’ –Lucas Klein, Translation and Literature
‘Repressive regimes tend to have little problem acknowledging poets’ power to shape our opinions and our world. Some of those they exile settle in Britain. Yang Lian, a leading member of China’s Tiananmen generation, has just published his autobiographical masterpieceNarrative Poem in translation… A kind of wild lyricism marks the work… a sense of the explosive urgency of writing itself.’ –Fiona Sampson, The i Paper