Red Flower, White Flower by Jennifer Tseng
Publication Date: Fall 2013
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The poems in Red Flower, White Flower are lyric interviews with communion and solitude, nativity and immigration, generation and regeneration. Like a tree that bears both red and white fruit, the two ﬂ owers are grafted; their meanings grow from one tangled source. Inﬂ uenced as much by children’s fables and Chinese folktales as by metaphysical poets of the last few centuries, these poems cleave to multiplicity, hybridity, crossness, being dappled. At once elegy and introduction, they are the poems of an immigrant’s descendant writing in the 21st century. These bilingual poems return lost baggage to lone travelers; they dwell in one homeland while always keeping other homelands in sight.
Mengying Han is a writer, translator, and editor from Sichuan, China. She has published translations of authors ranging from William Blake to Steve Almond. A graduate of Tsinghua University, she is currently completing graduate studies at the University of Chicago.
Aaron Crippen is an American poet and translator whose awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship and the PEN Texas Literary Award for Poetry. His books include Nameless Flowers: Selected Poems of Gu Cheng and “当代美国诗选”(Contemporary American Poems, People's Literary Press, Beijing, 2011).
“The poems in Jennifer Tseng’s Red Flower, White Flower have a highly intuitive use of music, serious humor, mystery, grief, and along with grief, unguarded understanding and puzzlement, side by side. It is as if this poetry has been waiting in a room somewhere, or a river, or a forest, and now Jennifer Tseng has led us into it—I sometimes even felt some sense of her own surprise—all carried over with a sort of underwater intelligence, light gravity.”
— Jean Valentine, author of Break the Glass
“Jennifer Tseng is ruled by something else, not thought, not music but—what? Instinct? Urge?— something that draws her close to the primal meeting place of language and deed. Utterance. Her poems are evocations, enactments, they make a thing happen in their saying.”
— Kazim Ali, author of Sky Ward
“It is cause for celebration to ﬁ nd a writer who does not shy away from feelings as particular as ardor, ache, solace—feelings rising from “strange invitations” in real-life settings or in fables, Chinese and archetypal. Open the covers and hear Jennifer Tseng’s bright voice in Red Flower, White Flower.”
— Kimiko Hahn, author of Toxic Flora
“These are poems of a stark elegance humbled by the limits of human vision and knowledge, especially in face of love and death: Tseng sees into the world as far as it will allow, yet beyond that limit she will not trespass, as she is a poet of honesty, a poet we can trust, a poet to read again and again.”
— Katie Ford, author of Colosseum