In 1985, Gary Geddes won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, Americas Region, for The Terracotta Army, a brilliant sequence of his Chinese sonnets. The nine-couplet poems were inspired by his 1981 visit to the archaeological site in China where more than 8,000 individually sculpted, life-sized soldiers and horses were interred in the third century to accompany Emperor Ch'in Shi Huang Di into the afterlife.
In this ideologically charged volume, Geddes gives voice to a few soldiers, who engage in myriad debates about the abuse of power, the yin-yang dance of narrative and silence, and the sanctity of the idiosyncratic self in the face of conformity.
This new edition of The Terracotta Army, published to coincide with the Canadian tour of The Warrior Emperor and China's Terracotta Army, opening at the ROM in late June 2010, pairs Geddes' poems with photographs of the terracotta soldiers.
Gary Geddes was born in Vancouver and raised mostly on the west coast, where he gill netted, loaded boxcars at BC Sugar Refinery, stocked shelves at Woodwards, worked as a fishing guide at Whytecliffe, taught on Texada Island, and drove a water-taxi. After doing graduate studies at Reading University in England and at the University of Toronto, he embarked on a varied career as a writer, teacher, editor, and publisher. Gary taught for twenty years at Concordia University in Montreal before returning to the west coast, where he was appointed Distinguished Professor of Canadian Culture at Western Washington University (1998-2001) and served as writer-in-residence at Green College, and the Vancouver Public Library. He has written and edited more than thirty-five books of poetry, fiction, drama, non-fiction, criticism, translation and anthologies, including 20th Century Poetry & Poetics and 15 Canadian Poets x 3. His literary awards include the E.J. Pratt Medal and Prize, the National Poetry Prize, the Americas Best Book Award in the 1985 Commonwealth Poetry Competition, National Magazine Gold Award, the Writers Choice Award, Archibald Lampman Prize, the Poetry Book Society Recommendation and the Gabriela Mistral Prize, which he shared with Nobel laureates Octavio Paz and Vaclav Havel and with Rafael Alberti, Ernesto Cardenal, and Mario Benedetti. Gary Geddes lives on Vancouver Island, where he divides his time between Victoria and French Beach.
"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. ... In The Terracotta Army, art has the power to write humanity into existence and yet, in Geddes's grounded and lyrical world, it is ultimately as delicate and frail." — Canadian Literature
Pub date: July 30, 2010