Second Morning in West Texas

Lao Yang
Translated from the Chinese by Joshua Edwards & Lynn Xu

The train left my childhoodNot knowing its destinationHometown at my backI try to catch up, running barefootThirty years west of the riverThirty years east of the riverIn MarfaThe train tries to wake me again and againBut my dreams, not yet over,Are determined to last until morningThe train carries away dream and hometownMorning and IRemain in Marfa 馬爾法的第二個早晨火車從童年出走不知去向我背著故鄉赤足追趕三十年河東三十年河西在马尔法火車一再試圖喚醒我可我的夢還沒做完執意留在清晨火車載著夢和故鄉遠去早晨和我留在馬爾法

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Image of Lao Yang

Lao Yang was born in northeastern China. He founded one of China’s first independent advocacy spaces dedicated to experimental music and sound art in Beijing. A recipient of a Jean-Jacques-Rousseau fellowship, he was a resident at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, and he has performed at venues and festivals around the world.

Image of Joshua Edwards & Lynn Xu

Born on Galveston Island, Joshua Edwards lives in New York City and West Texas. He’s the author of a half-dozen books, the most recent of which is The Double Lamp of Solitude, and his co-translation (with Lynn Xu) of Lao Yang’s Pee Poems was just published by Circumference Books. He co-edits Canarium Books and teaches at Pratt Institute and Columbia University.

Born in Shanghai, Lynn Xu is the author of Debts & Lessons (Omnidawn) and And Those Ashen Heaps That Cantilevered Vase of Moonlight (Wave Books), and the co-translator of Pee Poems by Lao Yang (Circumference Books). She has performed multidisciplinary works at 300 South Kelly Street, the Guggenheim Museum, the Renaissance Society, and Rising Tide Projects. She teaches at Columbia University and coedits Canarium Books.

"In the mythos of Chinese ethnogenesis, the sage king Yu countered the great flood by diverting it into rural irrigation. The contemporary Chinese poet Lao Yang adopts a more irreverent strategy for liquid transport, urination (with an emphasis on the nation). This apocalyptic book reads like the waste journals of a survivalist on the run from carnivorous leviathans, God, and the Chinese state. Calling to mind the work of Raúl Zurita and Kim Hyesoon, Yang’s Pee Poems consist of crystalline scatalogy, expressions of a profane piety. I can’t quite recall reading another poetry book that felt simultaneously this elemental and funny."
—Ken Chen

"In these irreverent poems, we see a fearless spirit in confronting the darkness and absurdity around the poet. An extraordinary collection."
—Ha Jin

"Burrowing trinkets of sound and fury, these poems shoot inward like velvet claws, evoking a courageous loneliness and despair that spits out flowers in return."
—Rob Mazurek

"These poems eat themselves. There’s nothing for me to say. Nonetheless I send them to everyone I know. They’re all shaking their heads saying this is so good. These poems are so good I can’t point, I can only send them out. They are out there. Truly, yay."
—Eileen Myles

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