September 13, Saturday night -- Reading Yiyun Li

In the basement of Cantina, a bar on Sutter Street, not far from Union Square

As part of Babylon Salon -- a reading series sponsored by University of San Francisco MFA alumni--

Reading an advance uncorrected proof of her upcoming novel, The Vagrants, by herself-- Yiyun Li. She was introduced with a long string of awards--The Granta award for 21 Best Young American Novelists, Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, California Book Award... The woman who introduced her asked if maybe, since she had so many awards, if she could possibly spare one! to which Yiyun Li responded that she could have the Granta award because the prize doesn't fit her--she's not young (she is), not American (she's from Beijing) and not a novelist. Apparently, you just have to be gifted to be among of the best young American novelists!

The excerpt that she read involved, among other things, a man searching the banks of a frozen river for abandoned baby girl with the hopes of taking her home to raise.

I'd gone to the series to hear my friend Maw Shein Win, who was also reading. Because I have a problem with absorbing everything the first time I hear it, Maw was kind enough to give me the pages she read from (I wasn't daring enough to steal Yiyun Li's advanced copy). Later in the night, at a birthday party, while dancing to hip hop in someone's living room, I brought out the poems and gave a reading of my favorite poem--Second Head, in which a woman grows a second head on her shoulder and, when times are tough, it gives her a little kiss. Mwa! from my friend, Maw, I said and kissed my sister's roommate. Maw's poems are beautiful.

What poets do you enjoy?

1 Comment:

sometimes commenter said...

Li Young Lee (Lee Young Li?); Particularly "The Gift".