In the atomic theory of the ancient Greeks, atoms moved freely throughout the void. They only begin to accumulate when one veers from its trajectory and knocks into another. The subtle process of swerving, collision and accumulation eventually lead to the universe discernable to the senses. The subtlety of these movements weave Wendy Xu’s world. The movements are smooth, but not delicate.
Xu speaks of common day experiences. They shift and flow in particular in poems like “Phrasis.” These fragments that compose this work all have a parallel form: an observation followed by a statement that reframes the first. The sonic resonance of the first stanza “pulling purple cabbages” is met by “your plural skin” – in which imagination slides into observation. Each fragmentary work runs over the surface and through the waft of each of her poems’ tensile fabric.
Xu’s collection is understated, quiet but persistent in the attention to change. Much like the ancient atomists, the poet has gifted us with the witnessing of the small things. She reveals to us the ways the world intersects and can be refracted by form and language.
By Wendy Xu
Brooklyn Arts Press