Xiao Hai (1965-) was born in Hai'an, in China's Jiangsu Province. At the prestigious Nanjing University, he co-founded and edited the poetry magazine They with other young poets, a publication that has fostered a number of important figures in contemporary Chinese literature such as Han Dong, Yu Jian, and Su Tong. He has authored over a dozen works of Chinese history and poetry collections, including Bending to Weed until Afternoon, Villages and Fields, Bei Ling River, The Great Kingdom of Qin, and Song of Shadows. He has published widely in such influential poetry magazines as Shi Kan, Xing Xing, Qing Chun, Hua Cheng, Zhong Shan, Zuo Jia, and Jintian (edited by Bei Dao). Known as a humble poet of discrete sensibilities, he has earned widespread recognition in his home country. His prizes include the Writer's Poetry Award and two Zi Jin Mountain Literature Awards, and he was the Tian Wen Poet of 2012. Beijing Literature included his poetry on their list of the best contemporary Chinese writing in 1998. His poetry has been translated into English, French, Japanese, Spanish, and Romanian. He lives in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province.
Zhu Yu is a lecturer in the English department at Capital Normal University, Beijing. She received her PhD in English literature from Peking University in 2010 and was a Fulbright visiting student in the English department of Yale University from 2007 to 2008. Her research interests include British Romanticism and contemporary poetry. She has published essays on William Wordsworth and Seamus Heaney in many academic journals. She has translated into Chinese selected poems from Seamus Heaney's Human Chain and Seamus Heaney 2001-2010 (forthcoming).
Nature Poem follows Teebs—a young, queer, American Indian (or NDN) poet—who can’t bring himself to write a nature poem. For the reservation-born, urban-dwelling hipster, the exercise feels stereotypical, reductive, and boring. He hates nature. He prefers city lights to the night sky. He’d slap a tree across the face. He’d rather write a mountain of hashtag punchlines about death and give head in a pizza-parlor bathroom; he’d rather write odes to Aretha Franklin and Hole. While he’s adamant—bratty, even—about his distaste for the word “natural,” over the course of the book we see him confronting the assimilationist, historical, colonial-white ideas that collude NDN people with nature. The closer his people were identified with the “natural world,” he figures, the easier it was to mow them down like the underbrush. But Teebs gradually learns how to interpret constellations through his own lens, along with human nature, sexuality, language, music, and Twitter. Even while he reckons with manifest destiny and genocide and centuries of disenfranchisement, he learns how to have faith in his own voice.