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Hey, Marfa

Jeffrey Yang
"leave your pretense at the Prada, a quiet simplicity?
settles in, to start anew or continue to lose?
your way and loose your imagination....” Stra pauses,?
tosses back his Mezcalero, and I notice the scar?
running across the gular skin of his throat. “But hey,?
Marfa, what do I know, I just got here, tomorrow?
hasta pronto—an airstrip would kill you."
            —from “Stra”
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?

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.

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An extraordinary lyric and visual meditation on place, nature, and art rippling out from Marfa, Texas

About the Author

Jeffrey  Yang
Credit: Meredith Heuer
Jeffrey Yang is the author of Hey, Marfa; Vanishing-Line; and An Aquarium, winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award. He is the translator of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo’s June Fourth Elegies. Yang lives in Beacon, New York.

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Jeffrey Yang reading at City Lights Bookstore

City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, CAview map

Jeffrey Yang reading at Hugo House

Hugo House in Seattle, WAview map
Reading and in conversation with Don Mee Choi.

Jeffrey Yang reading at Powell's Books on Hawthorne

Powell's Books - Hawthorne in Portland, ORview map
In conversation with John Beer.


  • “Marfa is lucky to earn such a quicksilver ode from Yang, whose poems are flexible, expansive, sonorously clever.”The Millions
  • “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*
  • “As Marfa grows in the cultural zeitgeist, Hey, Marfa captures the spirit of this eccentric, idiosyncratic, incomparable town.”The Culture Trip
  • “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
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