. . . incredibly reflective and sensual, stuffed with meaty adjectives and painted landscapes. . . . it is expertly curated, and each poem feels just right in place. In a world where it is so hard to stop and be contemplative, Birds, Beasts, and Seas demands it. . .

NPR Books

Jeffrey Yang

Jeffrey Yang is the author of An Aquarium and Vanishing-Line. His other translations include Ahmatjan Osman’s Uygburland, the Farthest Exile, Liu Xiaobo’s June Fourth Elegies, and Su Shi’s East Slope. He also works as an editor at New Directions. He has been with the press since 2000.

cover image of the book Time of Grief

Time of Grief

Time of Grief: Mourning Poems presents a wide-ranging selection of poets from classical to modern writing on themes of grief and loss, death and mourning. Reaffirming poetry’s ancient and intimate link to ritual, this little anthology unfolds as a series of forty-nine stations, or points of reflection and meditation. Each station — a poem or series of poems — explores and engages with the suspended, in-between state of bereavement. What the poets in this volume seek is a solace paradoxically within and beyond words. Their elegies try to make sense of the pain and emptiness common to grief. Readers will encounter the recent Nobel Prize-winner Tomas Tranströmer’s epiphanic clarity, the immortal words of Li Ch’ing-chao and Zeami, Marina Tsvetaeva’s eulogy to Boris Pasternak, Mallarmé’s anguished lines for his son, Neruda’s praise-song to his friend, Rilke’s requiem, and William Bronk’s transcendental fugue.

Featured poets:

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Eugénio de Andrade (1923-2005) Guillame Apollinaire (1880-1918) Gennady Aygi (1934-2006) Coral Barcho (b.1951) Bei Dao (b. 1949) Mei-mei Berssenbrugge (b. 1947) Johannes Bobrowski (1917-1965) Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) William Bronk (1919-1999) Kamau Brathwaite (b. 1930) Emily Brontë (1818-1848) Basil Bunting (1900-1985) Gaius Valerius Catullus (84-54 B.C.) Chang-Tzu (ca. 369-286 B.C.) Inger Christensen (1935-2009) Robert Creeley (1926-2005) Ali Chumacero (1918-2010) Robert Duncan (1919-1988) Hans Faverey (1933-1990) Lawrence Ferlinghetti (b. 1919) Forrest Gander (b. 1956) Allen Grossman (b. 1932) Gu Cheng (1956-1993) Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) H.D. (1886-1961) George Herbert (1593-1633) Yoel Hoffmann (b. 1937) Susan Howe (b. 1937) Hsu Chao (ca. 1200) Izumi Shikibu (ca. 970-1030) Philippe Jaccottet (b. 1925) Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (662-710) Kazuko Shiraishi (b. 1931) Louise Labé (ca. 1525-1566) Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) Denise Levertov (1923-1997) Li Ch’ing-chao (1084-1151) Luljeta Lleshanaku (b. 1968) Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) Nathaniel Mackay (b. 1947) Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898) Bernadette Mayer (b. 1945) Dunya Mikhail (b. 1965) Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) George Oppen (1908-1984) Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) José Emilio Pacheco (b. 1939) Michael Palmer (b. 1943) Nicanor Parra (b. 1914) Octavio Paz (1914-1998) Qu Yuan (can. 340-278 B.C.) Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982) Rihaku (701-762) Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) Rudaki (858-954) Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980) Sappho (ca. 630-570 B.C.) Aharon Shabtai (b. 1939) C. H. Sisson (1914-2003) Stevie Smith (1902-1971) Sophokles (496-406 B.C) Nathaniel Tarn (b. 1928) Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) Charles Tomlinson (b. 1927) Tomas Tranströmer (b. 1931) Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) Tu Fu (712-770) Rosmarie Waldrop (b. 1935) Dorothy Wellesley (1889-1956) William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) Wililam Wordsworth (1770-1850) Xi Chuan (b. 1963) Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443)

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cover image of the book Birds, Beasts, and Seas

Birds, Beasts, and Seas

Edited by Jeffrey Yang

The year 2011 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of New Directions, and what better way to celebrate than to dive into the diversity of its poets reveling in the wonders and joys of nature. Arranged chronologically by each poet’s birth, Birds, Beasts, and Seas showcases the work of over one hundred and twenty poets from the U.S. and abroad, culled from the New Directions library. Beginning with ancient Chinese, Greek, Roman, Inuit, Japanese, Indian, and Persian poets, then dipping into the Troubadours and the Renaissance, the collection gradually blossoms into a constellation of poets from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and into our present. Sappho, Neruda, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Lorca mix with Anne Carson, Inger Christensen, Coral Bracho, and Gu Cheng. Poems cross cultures, link, and converse in paeans to nature and its elegies; in nature’s dangers, mutabilities, and sanctuary; in its myths and scientific revelations. Also highlighted are translations by such luminaries as Samuel Beckett, John Dos Passos, T. S. Eliot, and Robert Lowell. Hidden jewels of nature await your discovery.

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cover image of the book City Gate, Open Up

City Gate, Open Up

by Bei Dao

Translated by Jeffrey Yang

In 2001, to visit his sick father, China’s legendary poet Bei Dao returned to his homeland for the first time in over eleven years. The city of his birth, however, had totally changed. “Everything was difficult to recognize, nothing familiar,” he writes: “I was a foreigner in my hometown.” The shock of this experience released a flood of memories and emotions that sparked City Gate, Open Up.

In this lyrical autobiography of growing up—from the birth of the People’s Republic, through the chaotic years of the Great Leap Forward, and on into the Cultural Revolution—Bei Dao uses his extraordinary gifts as a poet and storyteller to create another Beijing, a beautiful memory palace of endless alleyways, where personal narrative mixes with momentous history. At the center of his story is his family—his parents and two siblings—and their everyday life together through famine and festival, sorrow and laughter.

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cover image of the book Meaning a Life: an Autobiography

Meaning a Life: an Autobiography

by Mary Oppen

With a contribution by Jeffrey Yang

First published in 1978, Mary Oppen’s seminal Meaning a Life has been largely unavailable for decades. Written in her sixties, her first and only prose book recounts, with honesty, depth, and conviction, her fiercely independent life—“a twentieth-century American romance,” as Yang describes it in the new introduction, “of consciousness on the open road; a book of travel where the autobiographer is not the usual singular self at the center of the story but the union of two individuals.”

Oppen tells the story of growing up with three brothers in the frontier towns of Kalispell, Montana, and Grants Pass, Oregon, determined to escape the trap of “a meaningless life with birth and death in a biological repetition.” That escape happens in the fall of 1926, when she meets another student in her college poetry class, George Oppen. She is expelled for breaking curfew, and from then on the two face the world intertwined: living a life of conversation, hitchhiking across the US, sailing from the Great Lakes to New York City, meeting fellow poets and artists, starting a small press with Zukofsky and Pound, traveling by horse and cart through France, and fighting fascism through the Great Depression. Mary Oppen writes movingly of both her inner life and external events, of the inconsolable pain of suffering multiple stillbirths, of her husband fighting on the front lines during WWII while she struggled to care for their baby daughter, of fleeing to Mexico to avoid persecution for their political activities. This expanded edition includes a new section of prose and poetry that deepens Oppen’s radiantly incisive memoir with further memories, travels, and reflections.

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. . . incredibly reflective and sensual, stuffed with meaty adjectives and painted landscapes. . . . it is expertly curated, and each poem feels just right in place. In a world where it is so hard to stop and be contemplative, Birds, Beasts, and Seas demands it. . .

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