Hey, Marfa: Poems (Paperback)
I thought I knew all I needed to know about Marfa from Amazon's short-lived, made-for-Internet-TV version of Chris Kraus's "I Love Dick." It's where poets go to play cowboy, right? Wrong. Jeffrey Yang's visionary "Hey, Marfa" works in the documentary poetic tradition of Lorine Neidecker and Robert Smithson, offering up lessons on language, landscape, and the intersecting lines of power in the American desert. With patience and skill, Yang teaches the reader to look as closely at the page as he has looked at the land. The result is a book at once sparse and bursting with life, sketched with the crosshatched lines of history and the Now. A must read for anyone interested in contemporary poetry! Review by Katie Foster.— From Hey, Marfa by Jeffrey Yang
An extraordinary lyric and visual meditation on place, nature, and art rippling out from Marfa, Texas
Situated in the outreaches of southwest Texas, the town of Marfa has long been an oasis for artists, immigrants looking for work, and ranchers, while the ghosts of the indigenous and the borders between languages and nations are apparent everywhere. The poet and translator Jeffrey Yang experienced the vastness of desert, township, sky, and time itself as a profound clash of dislocation and familiarity. What does it mean to survive in a physical and metaphorical desert? How does a habitat long associated with wilderness and death become a center for nourishment and art?
Out of those experiences and questions, Yang has fashioned a fascinating, multifaceted work—an anti-travel guide, an anti-Western, a book of last words—that is a lyrical, anthropological investigation into history, culture, and extremity of place. Paintings and drawings of Marfa’s landscapes and substations by the artist Rackstraw Downes intertwine with Yang’s texts as mutual nodes and lines of energy. Hey, Marfa is a desert diary scaled to music that aspires to emit particles of light.
About the Author
Jeffrey Yang is the author of two previous poetry books, Vanishing-Line and An Aquarium, winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award. He is the translator of the Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo’s June Fourth Elegies. Yang lives in Beacon, New York.
“Remarkably blended, with references from Bach to Hollywood showing how Marfa fired Yang’s imagination, just as he will fire yours.”—Library Journal, starred review
“Yang . . . has constructed an Escher-like collage by weaving together musings on Southwest America’s past and accounts of current art movements. Illustrated with the sublime paintings and drawings of British artist Rackstraw Downes, Hey, Marfa is itself an art object as much as a book of exacting poetry. . . . A collection to read in wonder and then reread, discovering something new.”—Booklist
“As Marfa grows in the cultural zeitgeist, Hey, Marfa captures the spirit of this eccentric, idiosyncratic, incomparable town.”—The Culture Trip