Rain Falls Outside the Window

Yu Xiuhua
Translated from the Chinese by Fiona Sze-Lorrain

But I kept staying on the spot where I dried, drank a bottle of wineflipped and pushed it over, put it uprightthen pushed it overRain outside the window neglected me: a drop hugged another, felland pushed each other, fallingFusion is wreckage, wreckage fusionBut how long can one return to the sky, how long does it take to reacha descent—when I flick a speck of cigarette ash, another has arisenI love someone to deathAnother is in my bellyRain sounds different in different placesNo one vanishes faster than anotherNo one arrives more compact than anotherNo one in the rain, or not in it

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image of Yu Xiuhua

Born in 1976 in Hengdian village, Hubei Province, Yu Xiuhua is a poet from an impoverished rural background. She began writing poetry in 1998. In 2014, her poem “Crossing Half of China to Fuck You” became an online sensation, launching her career as a celebrity poet and writer. Yu received the Peasant Literature Award in 2016 and the Hubei Literary Prize in 2018. Still Tomorrow, an award-winning documentary film about her life and poetry, was released to critical acclaim the same year. Her collection of poems and essays in Fiona Sze-Lorrain’s translation, Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm, was out from Astra House in 2021.

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Fiona Sze-Lorrain is a poet, literary translator, editor, and zheng harpist. She is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Rain in Plural (2020) and The Ruined Elegance (2016), both from Princeton, and more than a dozen books of translation of Chinese, French, and American poets. A 2019-2020 Abigail R. Cohen Fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination, she lives in Paris. A film on Sze-Lorrain’s poetry, translations, artwork, and zheng harp music, Rain in Plural . . . and Beyond is now available to watch here, where she reads her poems alongside a poem and translation of Ye Lijun, “In Pingyuan Village,” as well as “I Can’t Stay Here and Love You” by Yin Lichuan [previously featured on Poetry Daily].

cover of Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm

New York, New York

"Yu Xiuhua’s Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm, translated by Fiona Sze-Lorrain, grows out of highly personal terrain. This farmer-poet says in an essay (Moonlight is sectioned by eight lyrical essays): 'We have man-handled so many words that I only dream of using them anew.' Yu says exactly what she means; and Sze-Lorrain honors the feeling and music in intimate translation. Thus, the poet’s language rises out of the natural, tinged by elemental soil and light."
—Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth

“‘Truth once spoken tends to be false,’ writes Yu Xiuhua in her incredible debut of essays and poems. I am smitten with Yu’s powerful writing, erotic poetry, and reflections on disability in daily life. One poem reads, ‘So risky, so heavy / O this love.’ I want nothing but risk in poetry and I feel proud to be a disabled poet in Yu’s company.”
—The Cyborg Jillian Weise, author of Common Cyborg

“I love reading these poems and essays by Yu Xiuhua. I feel befriended by them, by her. Courage, honesty, a love of words, and a wry sense of humor run through the pages of Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm, translated with grace and simplicity by Fiona Sze-Lorrain. When Yu writes in an essay, ‘There is no better ode to life than a weed that grows ruthlessly and arches out of the ground, despite its trauma,’ we know she is telling us her own story. And yet, in a poem called ‘Wheat Has Ripened,’ she says, ‘I am pleased to have landed here / like a sparrow skirting through the sky-blue.’ How can we be anything but grateful to a poet who ends a poem of love lost: ‘I still hope / to err over and over’?”
—Mary Helen Stefaniak, author of The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia

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