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Book Title

The Rupture Tense

Author 1
Jenny Xie
Poem Excerpt
When the morning shivers through the windows:
           some damp spots, coins from another life, left on the pillow.
                               Off camera, someone from long ago stages a return.
Cue expectation, a kind of frugality of the scene.
                  There is movement and a spool of time
                          and, therefore, we begin a narration.
                                                            From the rupture, what is it that you see?
—from “The Rupture Tense”
Shaped around moments of puncture and release, The Rupture Tense registers what leaks across the breached borders between past and future, background and foreground, silence and utterance. In polyphonic and formally restless sequences, Jenny Xie cracks open reverberant, vexed experiences of diasporic homecoming, intergenerational memory transfer, state-enforced amnesia, public secrecies, and the psychic fallout of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Across these poems, memory—historical, collective, personal—stains and erodes. Xie voices what remains irreducible in our complex entanglements with familial ties, language, capitalism, and the histories in which we find ourselves lodged.

The Rupture Tense begins with poems provoked by the photography of Li Zhensheng, whose negatives, hidden under his floorboards to avoid government seizure, provide one of the few surviving visual archives of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and concludes with an aching elegy for the poet’s grandmother, who took her own life shortly after the end of the Revolution. This extraordinary collection records the aftershocks and long distances between those years and the present, echoing out toward the ongoing past and a trembling future.

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6.5 x 9
The astounding second collection by Jenny Xie, “a magician of perspective and scale” (The New Yorker)

About the Author

Jenny  Xie
Credit: Teresa Mathew
Jenny Xie is the author of Nowhere to Arrive, recipient of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize, and her poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, the New Republic, Poetry, Tin House, and elsewhere. She lives in New York and teaches at New York University. Eye Level is her most recent collection.
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  • “Luminous. . . . [The Rupture Tense] is a devastating master class in subtlety.”Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • “Jenny Xie’s The Rupture Tense, like the photographs of Li Zhensheng, invites a powerful reckoning with the history of the Cultural Revolution. Her stunning language enacts a journey through an emotional landscape where we listen to the pain of the dead and the grief of those who inherited the terrible stories. . . . Disquieting and gorgeous.’”—Rigoberto González
  • “A masterwork of witness. . . . These poems brilliantly capture the discomfort and wonder of returning home to a country shorn of memory, where the soiled corners of the past remain all too evident. The Rupture Tense doesn’t just haunt—it pulls me back into singular, urgent moments until I live inside them, shaken and transformed.”—Sally Wen Mao
  • “With brilliant inquiry and imagination, Jenny Xie writes into what has vanished from the archives of the Cultural Revolution. . . . The Rupture Tense is innovative, stunningly precise, and heartbreaking.”—Cathy Park Hong
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