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Book Title

Hey, Marfa

Author 1
Jeffrey Yang
Poem Excerpt
"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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  • “Yang’s third collection offers a fractal portrait of Marfa, the improbable art mecca in the Texas badlands with its vibrant culture and stark scrubby landscape where ‘the blood of the defeated runs / fast through the earth’s veins.’ Rackstraw Downes’s paintings and drawings of the area’s electrical grid add a visual element throughout.”—The New York Times Book Review
  • “[Hey, Marfa is] part versified diary, part commonplace book, shot through with desert father-like meditations on oblivion.”—The New York Review of Books
  • “Hugely rich, insightful, and moving. . . . Yang has done no less than to bring many parts of the world and its history into a very small place on the American map.”BOMB
  • “Part-love-song-part-historical-exposé, Jeffery Yang’s Hey, Marfa is a multi-faceted portrait of Marfa, Texas. . . .  A blend of both traditional and experimental forms, Hey, Marfa gives voices of the past space in the present.”Electric Literature
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