Ian Boyden Interview (A Forest of Names)

They are 108 poems that “illuminate a hidden landscape in the names of children killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.” Many of their deaths could have been prevented if not for the shoddy construction of the school buildings in which they attended. The poems are inspired by an exhibit that Ai Weiwei created and an investigation he led in an effort to restore the names of the children who perished.

Of the author of this new book entitled A Forest of Names, Ai Weiwei said: “Ian Boyden is not just a poet— he is an artist, craftsman, translator and rebel.

And to call him the poet, or the author of A Forest of Names is a disservice, because these poems are translations of the names of the dead children and short meditations of those names. It is a project that could only have been undertaken by someone fluent in English and Chinese, fluent in the Buddhist tradition and also well-versed in the quality of empathy, so rare in our contemporary world and in contemporary poetry.

Your humble narrator caught up with Ian via Zoom on October 9, 2020, for our third interview together. One was with the late poet Sam Hamill and one was on San Juan Island about the Ai Weiwei exhibit.

About Splabman

Paul Nelson is founder of SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) in Seattle, the Cascadia Poetry Festival and the August POetry POstcard Fest (PoPo). www.POPO.cards. He has published a collection of essays, Organic Poetry & a serial poem re-enacting the history of Auburn, WA, A Time Before Slaughter (shortlisted for a 2010 Genius Award by The Stranger) and American Sentences, a book of 17 syllable poems drawn from the first fourteen of his 20 years of daily practice. The tenth anniversary edition of that book includes Pig War: & Other Songs of Cascadia. He’s interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Anne Waldman, Sam Hamill, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, Eileen Myles, George Bowering, Diane di Prima, Brenda Hillman, George Stanley, Joanne Kyger & many Cascadia poets (see: https://paulenelson.com/americanprophets/) has presented his poetry and poetics in London, Brussels, Bothell, Cumberland, BC, Qinghai and Beijing, China, Lake Forest, Illinois, Ukiah, CA, and other places & writes an American Sentence every day. www.PaulENelson.com
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