Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm
Starting with the viral poem “Crossing Half of China to Fuck You,” Yu Xiuhua’s raw collection chronicles her life as a disabled, divorced, single mother in rural China.
Yu Xiuhua was born with cerebral palsy in Hengdian Village in the Hunan Province, in Southern China. Unable to attend college, travel, or work the land with her parents, Yu remained home where she could help with housework. Eventually she was forced into an arranged marriage that became abusive. She divorced her husband and moved back in with her parents, taking her son with her.
In defiance of the stigma attached to her disability, her status as a divorced single mother, and as a peasant in rural China, Yu found her voice in poetry. Starting in the late ’90s, her writing became a vehicle with which to explore and share her reflections on homesickness, family and ancestry, the reality of disability in the context of a body’s urges and desires.
Then, Yu’s poem “Crossing Half of China to Fuck You” blew open the doors on the patriarchal and traditionalist world of contemporary Chinese poetry. She became an internet sensation, finding a devoted following among young readers who enthusiastically welcomed her fresh, bold, confessional voice into the literary canon.
Thematically organized, Yu’s essays and poems are in conversation with each other around subjects that include love, nostalgia, mortality, the natural world and writing itself.
FIONA SZE-LORRAIN is a poet, literary translator, editor, and zheng harpist who writes and translates in English, French, Chinese, and occasionally Spanish. The author of four poetry collections, most recently Rain in Plural (2020) and The Ruined Elegance (2016), both from Princeton University Press, she was a finalist for the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She has also translated over a dozen books of of contemporary Chinese, French, and American poetry, and was shortlisted for the 2020 Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry and the 2016 Best Translated Book Award. Named a 2019-20 Abigail R. Cohen Fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination, she lives in Paris.