A multifaceted collection by Jeffrey Yang, whose poetry is “flexible, expansive, sonorously clever” (The Millions).
In Jeffrey Yang’s vision for this brilliant new collection, the essence of poetry can be broken down into line and light. Dispersed across these poems are luminous centers, points of a constellation tracing lines of energy through art, myth, and history. These interconnections create vast and dynamic reverberations. As Yang asks in one poem, “What vitality binds a universe?”
One long series explores through shadow and play the ancient Malay kingdom of Langkasuka, a legendary nexus of creativity, commerce, and spiritual life, threatened over time by violence, climate, and environmental degradation. The title poem is a study of time, night turning to dawn, revealing the lines and lights of an art installation on an island in the Hudson River, flowing into another poem about Grand Central Terminal’s atrium of stars, flowing upriver into a poem that describes a cemetery for a state prison. Another extended sequence is a collaboration investigating memory and loss, composed of Yang’s poems, Japanese translations by Hiroaki Sato, and drawings made with ink derived from tea leaves by the artist Kazumi Tanaka. The collection ends with moving elegies for poets, translators, and artists whose works have informed this one. Altogether, Line and Light illuminates the ways that ancestry holds and makes possible the act of making art.
"Yang’s fifth book takes the creative impulse itself as its subject, paying tribute to poetic forebears like Jean Valentine and Kamau Brathwaite, celebrating visionary cultures and supplementing the poems with drawings by the artist Kazumi Tanaka." –The New York Times
“[Line and Light] is sprawling, vast, like a city of poetry. . . . The results are gorgeous, hallucinatory, slipstreams of consciousness, deriving their power not only from Yang’s journeys into cultures ancient and present, but also from the way he moves so effortlessly, sometimes in telling a story, sometimes offering only fragments of philosophical or spiritual meditation.”—Jesse Nathan, McSweeney's
“Lines we draw and light we receive become part of a new logos of regeneration explored in this constellation of lyrical visions on the move. With Jeffrey Yang, a bard of our time, we, too, come to rediscover artistry in ancestry and vice versa, such a resilient nexus in fluxus in times of ecological disaster and hope.”—Kyoo Lee
“When Yang focuses on a single artist or art work, he creates a version of ekphrasis with the wide-open sensation of a Light and Space or perceptual art piece, generously reimagining another artist’s vision through a dynamic sense of poetic syntax and line […]”—Poetry Foundation