Ma Lan writes poems that carry us suddenly into the vast, strange worlds of myth and dream. Blurring the lines between subject and object, Ma's poetry reveals the character, the liveliness inherent in objects, which seems hidden but never really was ("I wrap a floral tablecloth around my body/making the napkins line up naked"); her poems operate their own internal logic that aligns and then departs from the logic of shared reality ("Death never rejects a reason for ceasing to breathe"). Charles Laughlin's sensitive, acute translation of Ma Lan's poems bring readers into a world where "Poets are flirtatious horses", moving with all of the might and symbolism of ancient folklore. Ma, a member of the Muslim Hui ethnic nationality in China, builds surreal spaces in these poems, embedding them with mysterious and at times menacing political undertones. "Where does it come from, this ponderous density?" she asks, using language to search the physical and metaphysical. "Like dreaming a dream beyond the universe."
Poetry. Asian & Asian American Studies. Women's Studies.