A Tower Built Downwards

Lian Yang


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Bloodaxe Books Ltd
23 March 2023
ISBN: 9781780376431
160 pages

From the publisher

Before and since his enforced exile from 1989, Yang Lian has been one of the most innovative and influential poets from China. Widely hailed in America and Europe as a highly individual voice in world literature, he has been translated into many languages. A Tower Built Downwards is the latest instalment of his poetry, written between 2019 and 2022. The different sections - short poems, sequences, and one long poem - form a single comprehensive statement of Yang's recent explorations. It is rooted in his living experience of the historical retrogression of Hong Kong, the disaster of Covid-19, the global spiritual crisis, as well as his personal sadness at events such as his father's death. The creativity of the writing faces - is even excited by - the depth of the challenges of reality. The long title-poem in seven parts is a spiritual journey travelling back in time, completed back in the now, building up into 'a reincarnation within one', as endless time is transformed into multilayered poetical space, in Ai Weiwei's words: 'This intellectual tower... [turns] the unsurpassable puzzles intermingled with life and death into an in-depth exploration of human emotion.' Ai Weiwei's innovative cover image featuring CCTV cameras and chains made of gold stretches around the whole book, across French flaps and then continues inside the front and back covers of the book, becoming an extraordinary metaphor for the book's content.