Posts by Eleanor Goodman

Three Poems by Sun Wenbo

A poet of non-poetic things, Sun Wenbo drops himself into the mine of his subject and then starts tapping on the walls around him to find a way to tunnel out. This is the tension that undergirds his work, whether the poet’s intellect will manage to make its way back to the surface. His lines are sinewy but vernacular, sometimes verging on chatty, with moments of startling grace. He has read and absorbed the greats of Chinese literary history, and he writes as much to Du Fu as to his contemporaneous readers. His oeuvre as a whole presents a poet passionately concerned with words above all, but also with history and politics, the metaphysical and social realms, philosophy, love and its failures. When judging their peers, Chinese writers tend to be concerned not only with a poet’s output, but with his or her attitude toward the work of poetry. Sun Wenbo ranks among the most focused and intent. He has a scholar’s force of concentration and a soldier’s determination.

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