Eye Level

Eye Level

by Jenny Xie
Eye Level

Eye Level

by Jenny Xie


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Winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, selected by Juan Felipe Herrera

For years now, I’ve been using the wrong palette.
Each year with its itchy blue, as the bruise of solitude reaches its expiration date.

Planes and buses, guesthouse to guesthouse.

I’ve gotten to where I am by dint of my poor eyesight,
my overreactive motion sickness.

9 p.m., Hanoi’s Old Quarter: duck porridge and plum wine.

Voices outside the door come to a soft boil.

—from “Phnom Penh Diptych: Dry Season”

Jenny Xie’s award-winning debut, Eye Level, takes us far and near, to Phnom Penh, Corfu, Hanoi, New York, and elsewhere, as we travel closer and closer to the acutely felt solitude that centers this searching, moving collection. Animated by a restless inner questioning, these poems meditate on the forces that moor the self and set it in motion, from immigration to travel to estranging losses and departures. The sensual worlds here—colors, smells, tastes, and changing landscapes—bring to life questions about the self as seer and the self as seen. As Xie writes, “Me? I’m just here in my traveler’s clothes, trying on each passing town for size.” Her taut, elusive poems exult in a life simultaneously crowded and quiet, caught in between things and places, and never quite entirely at home. Xie is a poet of extraordinary perception—both to the tangible world and to “all that is untouchable as far as the eye can reach.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781555978020
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication date: 04/03/2018
Pages: 80
Sales rank: 308,568
Product dimensions: 8.80(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Jenny Xie has published poems in Harvard Review, the Literary Review, The New Republic, Tin House, and elsewhere. She teaches in the Expository Writing Program at New York University and lives in Brooklyn.

Table of Contents

Rootless 1

Unspoiled Fictions 5

Phnom Penh Diptych: Wet Season 6

Phnom Penh Diptych: Dry Season 13

Corfu 19

Displacement 20

Fortified 21

Epistle 22

Old Wives' Tales on Which I Was Fed 25

Solitude Study 26

Zuihitsu 27

Alike, Yet Not Quite 30

Lunar New Year, 1988 31

Metamorphosis 34

Naturalization 35

Lineage 36

Chinatown Diptych 37

Origin Story 41

Captivity 42

Private Property 43

Invisible Relations 44

Bildungsroman 45

Visual Orders 46

Borderless 50

No Animal 51

Melancholia 52

Inwardly 53

Square Cells 54

Tending 55

Exit, Eve 60

Hardwired 63

The Hunt 64

Zazen 65

To Be a Good Buddhist Is Ensnarement 66

Margins 67

Déjà Vu 69

Letters to Du Fu 70

Exile 71

A Slow Way 72

Ongoing 73

Long Nights 74

Notes 79

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