Wild Geese Returning: Chinese Reversible Poems

Author(s): Michele Metail

Poetry / Plays

The genre of poems that may be read both forward and backward, producing different creations was known as the "flight of wild geese". These poems were often sent so that a distant lover, like the migrating birds, would return. Its greatest practitioner, and the focus of this critical anthology, is Su Hui, a women who, in the 4th century embroidered a silk for her distant husband using a grid of 840 characters that created perhaps 12,000 ways to read this poem. With examples from the 3rd to the 19th centuries, Michele Metail describes reversible poems as "a singular adventure at the edge of meaning, of language, and of writing".


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A breathtaking introduction to Chinese multidirectional poems, told through the story of Su Hui, the greatest writer of these poems who embroidered a silk with 840 characters--equaling as many as 12,000 multidirectional poems--for her distant husband.

Michele Metail is a Sinologist, photographer, avant-gardist poet, the first woman member of Oulipo, and the co-founder of Dixit, a group dedicated to sound poetry. She is the author of two dozen books of poetry and translations from the Chinese, which she often performs accompanied by music and projected images. This is her first book in English translation. She lives in Jody Gladding has published three collections of poems and over thirty translations from the French. She lives in Calais, Vermont.

General Fields

  • : 9789629968007
  • : The Chinese University Press
  • : The Chinese University Press
  • : January 2017
  • : 216mm X 140mm
  • : Hong Kong
  • : March 2017
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 190
  • : Michele Metail
  • : Paperback