Publication Date: June 2005
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Bei Dao has gained international acclaim over the last decade for his haunting interior poetic landscapes; his poetry is translated and published in some twenty-five languages around the world. Now, in Midnight's Gate, Bei Dao redefines the essay form with the same elliptical precision of his poetry, but with an openness and humor that complements the complexity of his poems. The twenty essays of Midnight's Gate form a travelogue of a poet who has lived in some seven countries since his exile from China in 1989. The work carries us from Palestine to Sacramento. At one point we are led into a basement in Paris for a production of Gorky's Lower Depths, the next moment we are in the mountains of China where Bei Dao worked for eleven years as a concrete mixer and ironworker. The subjective experience deepens and multiplies in these essays, filled with the stories of ordinary Chinese immigrants, as well as those of literary, artistic, and political figures. And it all coheres with a poet's observations, meditations, and memories.