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East Slope by Su Shi

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In 1081 when Su Shi was 42 years old, he was arrested for writing controversial poetry which was said to criticize government reforms.  He would have been sentenced to death but for Emperor Shenzong who instead exiled him to a remote area, Huangzhou.  The land was dry and suffering from drought, and he was forced to work the parched earth or starve.  As a result, he wrote the poetry of East Slope.

Translated by Jeffrey Yang, Su Shi’s poetry is simple - almost stark - but beautiful.  He speaks of the labor of beginning with only an empty field and no food or home.  As he toils over the land, his poetry expresses a contrast of having nothing yet being rich in the surroundings of nature.

Any nature lover, gardener, or farmer can easily relate to the ancient poetry of Su Shi, as can anyone who has ever lost it all, yet found the beauty in beginning again.  

Published by Ugly Duckling Presse, this unique collection is printed in the same simple yet elegant manner of the poet’s words.  Bound in a folder, tied with string, each poem contains both the original Chinese characters and the English translation; each poem written on a subtle pictorial background.  East Slope is a must-own piece for any lover of ancient Chinese literature; this handful of precious poems will be returned to again and again.

7 comments to East Slope by Su Shi

  1. David Holder
    March 16th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Sounds like an interesting read

  2. Linda Fast
    March 16th, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    I had never heard of Su Shi before so I googled his name. Su Shi was an amazing man and accomplished so much even while being exiled twice in his life. His poetry is absolutely lovely.

  3. Harli
    March 16th, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Sounds really interesting.

  4. Kelly B
    March 16th, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Sounds really incredible. I had never heard of Su Shi before either, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be introduced to this poet. Thank you. :)


    Kelly Bs last blog post..Interview With Mary Pat Kelly - Author of Galway Bay!

  5. Holly Henderson
    March 17th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    I would love to give this to my good friend who is newly separated and moving-I think it would be affirming for her at this juncture of her life. Thanks!

  6. Aliya D.
    March 17th, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Sounds like an interesting and unique read. From the way you described it, the austere beauty likens it to the simple, yet moving works of Rumi. I’ll look for it in stores. Thanks!

  7. Teri
    March 22nd, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Sounds extraordinary. Beautiful. Certainly a book I would set out to share.

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