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MichaelBriggs

Sliding Fingers

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Lines around China - Qiu Xiaolong The author stands across the cultural divide, learning languages, publishing and writing in more than one language, steeped in the impact of the Cultural Revolution and the deep cultural history of China. While I stand on the other side. On only one side. The closest I come to reading something in another language is when I attempt to read a work in an earlier version of English. Beowulf and the like.

The poetry is broken down into three sections: Poetry out of China, Poetry in China (when the poet would return to his native land), and Return to China - translations and reactions to ancient poetry. Poetry 1300 or so years old.

There are some interesting lines throughout, though I found myself lacking in the earlier poems. Lacking knowledge. Even though written in English, there were word choices, ideas, symbols of two cultures that I did not understand, pick up on. Oddly enough, or not, the poetry that I found it easier to understand were the translations of work, of poetry written thousands of years ago, combined with Qiu Xiaolong's additions, reactions, comments in the form of poetry.

I've enjoyed Xiaolong's mysteries, and the snippets of poetry in said mysteries, though even there I found myself sometimes gasping in ignorance. Defeated, left behind by my lack of cultural knowledge of China. Even so, the mysteries were quite enjoyable and easily read. The poetry collection less so. I found myself fighting to get into the rhythm in the early going, though I eventually picked up the flow.