Shortlisted, Independent Publishers Book Award, Poetry
The Qingming Shanghe Tu scroll, sometimes called "Spring Festival by the River," was thought to have been painted by Zhang Zeduan before 1127, when the Northern Song capital of Bian-Iiang was overrun by the invading Jin. Inspired by the figures in the scroll, Geddes found stories demanding to be told, tales of the droll, exacting, sometimes turbulent life of cities.
In shimmering verse, Geddes captures the voice of the painter himself and those of the underprivileged, with their not-so-subtle forms of dissent. Cleverly illustrated to intertwine East and West in dialogue, this ingenious volume juxtaposes a reproduction of the scroll that reads from back to front (experienced as Chinese reads) with Geddes' poems, which read from front to back.
"The book is, as Geddes himself puts it, 'rescue work,' an attempt to recover, reconstruct and reawaken a lost time, fill it with so unique a blend of voices that it will emerge as something new. Each poem crackles with their thoughts and impressions, sometimes contradictory, always entertaining." — Canadian Bookseller
"Geddes's; accessible poetic style brings to life a rich array of characters inspired by a blend of history, culture, myth, and imagination. ... his two most recent collections offer the reader a point of entry into the inner workings of old China by bringing to life a thronging diversity of voices tinged with both creativity and lore. ... Swimming Ginger reanimates one of China's most iconic artifacts and infuses it with irreverence, gently poking fun at the fantasies of ancient Chinese culture that we might otherwise be wont to adopt. In answer to such fantasies, Geddes creates an earthy, vibrant, and altogether more pragmatic account of lives lived in twelfth-century China." — Canadian Literature
Pub date: August 27, 2010