The Rupture Tense

Finalist, National Book Awards 2022 for Poetry

book cover for Jenny Xie, The Rupture Tense
ISBN 9781644452011
Graywolf Press
Jenny Xie

Jenny Xie was born in Anhui, China, and resides in New York City. She is the author of The Rupture Tense and Eye Level, which was a Finalist for the National Book Award and recipient of the Academy of American Poets' Walt Whitman Award and the Holmes National Poetry Prize. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

Shaped around moments of puncture and release, The Rupture Tense registers what leaks across the breached borders between past and future, background and foreground, silence and utterance. In polyphonic and formally restless sequences, Jenny Xie cracks open reverberant, vexed experiences of diasporic homecoming, intergenerational memory transfer, state-enforced amnesia, public secrecies, and the psychic fallout of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Across these poems, memory—historical, collective, personal—stains and erodes. Xie voices what remains irreducible in our complex entanglements with familial ties, language, capitalism, and the histories in which we find ourselves lodged.

The Rupture Tense begins with poems provoked by the photography of Li Zhensheng, whose negatives, hidden under his floorboards to avoid government seizure, provide one of the few surviving visual archives of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and concludes with an aching elegy for the poet’s grandmother, who took her own life shortly after the end of the Revolution. This extraordinary collection records the aftershocks and long distances between those years and the present, echoing out toward the ongoing past and a trembling future.

Judges Citation

In the haunting, self-assured lyrics of The Rupture Tense, Jenny Xie undertakes a journey of the irreconcilable through unflinching poems that hold up to the darkroom’s red bulb the legacy of China’s Cultural Revolution. “If there’s an afterlife, she’s borrowing language from it,” writes Xie, except that everything here feels unhesitatingly new. Exhaustive but never exhausting, these attempted homecomings yield a brilliant collection driven not by the past but the collision of distance and desire.


Jenny Xie at the 2022 National Book Awards Finalist Reading