My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree: Selected Poems (Paperback)
One of China’s most significant contemporary poets, co-translated by former US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith
*Shortlisted for the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize*
Yi Lei published her poem “A Single Woman’s Bedroom” in 1987, when cohabitation before marriage was a punishable crime in China. She was met with major critical acclaim—and with outrage—for her frank embrace of women’s erotic desire and her unabashed critique of oppressive law. Over the span of her revolutionary career, Yi Lei became one of the most influential figures in contemporary Chinese poetry.
Passionate, rigorous, and inimitable, the poems in My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree celebrate the joys of the body, ponder the miracle of compassion, and proclaim an abiding reverence for the natural world. Presented in the original Chinese alongside English translations by Changtai Bi and Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Tracy K. Smith, this collection introduces American readers to a boundless spirit—one “composing an explosion.”
About the Author
Yi Lei (1951–2018) received the Zhuang Zhongwen Literature Prize and published eight collections of poems, including A Single Woman’s Bedroom, The Love Poems of Yi Lei, and Women’s Age. Her work has been translated into five languages.
“Yi Lei’s astonishing poems, steeped in disquiet and desire, are at once aching and incendiary. Tracy K. Smith and Changtai Bi have coaxed them into English respectfully, inventively, and gorgeously. . . . A resonant conversation between two exceptional poets.”—Jhumpa Lahiri
“Even posthumously, Yi Lei remains one of the most revolutionary voices in Chinese poetry. This volume presents the expertly translated English poems alongside their Chinese originals for a beautiful and essential collection for any poetry lover.”—Ms. Magazine
“These poems in English are a tour de force. . . . In our own moment of urgency, this collection is, as Smith says, essential.”—RHINO