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The August Sleepwalker: Poetry

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First published in the US in 1990, the year after the uprising of Chinese students at Tiananmen Square, The August Sleepwalker collects all the early poetry of Bei Dao, China's premier poet, now living in exile. The August Sleepwalker is an extremely popular book (30,000 copies sold in China in one month) which was quickly banned by the Chinese government. The collection i First published in the US in 1990, the year after the uprising of Chinese students at Tiananmen Square, The August Sleepwalker collects all the early poetry of Bei Dao, China's premier poet, now living in exile. The August Sleepwalker is an extremely popular book (30,000 copies sold in China in one month) which was quickly banned by the Chinese government. The collection includes all of the poems Bei Dao published between 1970 and 1986. Bei Dao has lived in exile since the Tiananmen Incident. He is widely esteemed as one of contemporary China's most significant writers. His work is experimental, and subjective, while remaining passionately engaged in the individual's response to a disordered world.


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First published in the US in 1990, the year after the uprising of Chinese students at Tiananmen Square, The August Sleepwalker collects all the early poetry of Bei Dao, China's premier poet, now living in exile. The August Sleepwalker is an extremely popular book (30,000 copies sold in China in one month) which was quickly banned by the Chinese government. The collection i First published in the US in 1990, the year after the uprising of Chinese students at Tiananmen Square, The August Sleepwalker collects all the early poetry of Bei Dao, China's premier poet, now living in exile. The August Sleepwalker is an extremely popular book (30,000 copies sold in China in one month) which was quickly banned by the Chinese government. The collection includes all of the poems Bei Dao published between 1970 and 1986. Bei Dao has lived in exile since the Tiananmen Incident. He is widely esteemed as one of contemporary China's most significant writers. His work is experimental, and subjective, while remaining passionately engaged in the individual's response to a disordered world.

30 review for The August Sleepwalker: Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rowena

    Thanks to Goodreads I discovered a new poet. And it was a happy (nerdy) coincidence that I read "The August Sleepwalker" in the month of August. I found it brilliant but as I'm no good at analyzing poetry collections for reviews I will leave you with one of my favourite poems from this book. A Perpetual Stranger A Perpetual stranger am I to the world I don't understand its language my silence it can't comprehend all we have to exchange is a touch of contempt as if we meet in a mirror a perpetual strang Thanks to Goodreads I discovered a new poet. And it was a happy (nerdy) coincidence that I read "The August Sleepwalker" in the month of August. I found it brilliant but as I'm no good at analyzing poetry collections for reviews I will leave you with one of my favourite poems from this book. A Perpetual Stranger A Perpetual stranger am I to the world I don't understand its language my silence it can't comprehend all we have to exchange is a touch of contempt as if we meet in a mirror a perpetual stranger am I to myself I fear the dark but block with my body the only lamp my shadow is my beloved heart the enemy

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Beidao now lives in exile from the China he obviously loves. He grew up in the days of the Cultural Revolution when he awoke to the realization that this was not his China. He became a thorn in the side of the government, eventually forcing the exile. The poems reflect his love of country, experiences in the re-educated masses and hopes for change. There is nature and romantic imagery that is beautiful, sometimes hopeful, sometimes mournful. There are many poems I love, but my favorite today is: Beidao now lives in exile from the China he obviously loves. He grew up in the days of the Cultural Revolution when he awoke to the realization that this was not his China. He became a thorn in the side of the government, eventually forcing the exile. The poems reflect his love of country, experiences in the re-educated masses and hopes for change. There is nature and romantic imagery that is beautiful, sometimes hopeful, sometimes mournful. There are many poems I love, but my favorite today is: Song of Migrating Birds We are a flock of migrating birds Who have flown into winter's cage; In the green early dawn we set off On our flight to the ends of the earth. Let our shed feathers Fall on the heads of young women; Let our strong wings Bear the sun aloft. We herd dark clouds, Swaying manes pass through rainbows; We herd the winds, Flying pockets are filled with songs. It is our cries That frighten icebergs into ancient tears; It is our jeers That shame roses into crimson cheeks. North, our homeland, Accept our dream: let a tree Grow from each crack in the ice To bear great and small bells of joy... p 29 Highly recommended

  3. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    I am not used to reading translated poems that seem this fleshed out. Usually there is a skeleton-like quality to the poems and I can tell they were translated, but this book, I would have never suspected. Bei Dao writes in Chinese and this book of poems is translated by Bonnie S. McDougall. I loved the poems but I can't exactly say why. It isn't the type of writing I usually love, it's quiet, it doesn't really seem modern. The language is simple, but there is a light, enjoyable, very endearing q I am not used to reading translated poems that seem this fleshed out. Usually there is a skeleton-like quality to the poems and I can tell they were translated, but this book, I would have never suspected. Bei Dao writes in Chinese and this book of poems is translated by Bonnie S. McDougall. I loved the poems but I can't exactly say why. It isn't the type of writing I usually love, it's quiet, it doesn't really seem modern. The language is simple, but there is a light, enjoyable, very endearing quirkiness to the writing. Most of the poems didn't have punctuation, and it didn't matter at all. Every poem was easy to follow. Most of the line breaks were broken in a way to help the reader navigate. The titles were pretty simple. The big question is, will I still love Bei Dao when he is translated by someone else? I will find out soon, because I checked out every Bei Dao book I found at the 3 libraries I went to the last week. (Lately I have a ridiculous library compulsion, and right now I have 35 library books checked out from 4 libraries.) McDougall translated one other of Dao's poetry books. My favorites in the book (I found some versions of these poems that weren't translated by McDougall but I'm not posting them because they aren't as good.) I couldn't find any poems in the book online that were translated by McDougall, but I want to include a poem, so I am just going to type it out. Song of Migrating Birds. We are a flock of migrating birds Who have flown into winter's cage; In the green early dawn we set off On our flight to the ends of the earth. Let our shed feathers Fall on the heads of young women; Let our strong wings Bear the sun aloft. We herd dark clouds, Swaying manes pass through rainbows; We herd the winds, Flying pockets are filled with songs. It is our cries That frighten icebergs into ancient tears; It is our jeers That shame roses into crimson cheeks. North, our homeland, Accept our dream: let a tree Grow from each crack in the ice To bear great and small bells of joy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    pearl

    The Art of Poetry in the great house to which I belong only a table remains, surrounded by boundless marshland the moon shines on me from different corners the skeleton's fragile dream still stands in the distance, like an undismantled scaffold and there are muddy footprints on the blank paper the fox which has been fed for many years with a flick of his fiery brush flatters and wounds me and there is you, of course, sitting facing me the fair-weather lightning which gleams in your palm turns into firewood The Art of Poetry in the great house to which I belong only a table remains, surrounded by boundless marshland the moon shines on me from different corners the skeleton's fragile dream still stands in the distance, like an undismantled scaffold and there are muddy footprints on the blank paper the fox which has been fed for many years with a flick of his fiery brush flatters and wounds me and there is you, of course, sitting facing me the fair-weather lightning which gleams in your palm turns into firewood turns into ash

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Blok

    I read this for an assignment (knowing only one poem before hand). While I don't think my reading was served by the circumstances under which I read the collection (procrastination anyone?), I still was really impressed by the way Bei Dao mashes together images and gives them significance. And, anyone who writes a poem that's chanted at the Tiananmen Square protests has me intrigued already ("The Answer"). If you don't want to read the whole collection, some of my favorites are "The Answer" (als I read this for an assignment (knowing only one poem before hand). While I don't think my reading was served by the circumstances under which I read the collection (procrastination anyone?), I still was really impressed by the way Bei Dao mashes together images and gives them significance. And, anyone who writes a poem that's chanted at the Tiananmen Square protests has me intrigued already ("The Answer"). If you don't want to read the whole collection, some of my favorites are "The Answer" (also one of my favorite poems in general), "Untitled ("Stretch out your hands to me...")", "Resume", "The Red Sailboat". There are probably others I'm forgetting or missed when I was reading. Very interesting author, very interesting poetry.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Roddy Williams

    I picked up my copy of this in a charity shop, and what a happy choice that was. Bei Dao's work is deceptively sparse and elegant with unexpected depths. I found myself thinking of his poems at odd moments. They slip into the consciousness very easily. Strangely, I can't locate my copy of this now, so it looks like I'm going to have to hunt down another one. I picked up my copy of this in a charity shop, and what a happy choice that was. Bei Dao's work is deceptively sparse and elegant with unexpected depths. I found myself thinking of his poems at odd moments. They slip into the consciousness very easily. Strangely, I can't locate my copy of this now, so it looks like I'm going to have to hunt down another one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    895.1152 B4221a 1988

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Carr

    Dao takes you into an imaginary landscape of hope and despair.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Daisy Parsons

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Edmond

  11. 5 out of 5

    Iris

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kieran

  13. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  14. 4 out of 5

    Zhuzhu

  15. 5 out of 5

    Janessa

  16. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Lui

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew LaBerteaux

  18. 5 out of 5

    reading woman

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Jayne

  21. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Lawson

  22. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Chen

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  24. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Key

  26. 5 out of 5

    Livi Schroder

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lily O

  28. 4 out of 5

    mark mendoza

  29. 5 out of 5

    Viv

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

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