A Review: Feng Zhou’s “By The Sea: Poems of Love, Longing, and Lust”

Below is a review I wrote for Feng Zhou’s poetry book, “By The Sea: Poems of Love, Longing, and Lust.”  It looks as though the review has been translated into Chinese.  And here is a copy of the review on another Chinese blog. How cool is that?!

young couple relaxing on a tropical islandFeng Zhou is not a casual poet. His chapbook, By the Sea: Poems of Love, Longing, and Lust, begins with the poet’s well thought out definition of poetry. He describes poems in terms of visual art; poetry to Zhou is art—the creation of beautiful spaces with waves of emotion. Zhou’s introduction continues to inform on the intricacies of Chinese poetry, a subject that has received too little exposure in the English-speaking world. This information is a welcome and unique perspective which a reader is sure to appreciate—a broadening of the horizons and a unique perspective.

Zhou’s poems are more passionate than those of William Carlos Williams, but Zhou has the same eye for creating colorful, detailed images that can stand alone. Perhaps a touch of William Blake, the inquisitive painter-poet has, with his inspiring verse, infused some passion into these images, but more likely Zhou’s inspiration comes from Chinese poets, with whom he is quite familiar. Indeed we are looking at Zhou’s work through the lens of a translation, the quality of which we can only assume to be outstanding, given the finished product. It would truly be an oversight not to tip our hat to the translator, Chris Pereira, who we must assume translated the poems from the author’s native language.

If you have never seen the ocean, the poetry of Feng Zhou will take you there. Many of his poems are set by the sea, with beaches, waves, currents, seagulls, and seashells making many encore appearances throughout. In case one should find the ocean view monotonous, Zhou has other beautiful spaces (and seasons) in which you can immerse yourself; even Snow White will make an appearance. This collection will take you from the depths of nature (and passion) to the seedy motel—and if you close your eyes, you’ll almost miss the aroma of stale cigarette smoke and cheap perfume.

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