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Lu Xun’s Wild Grass — Translations

Book Cover –Lu Xun’s Wild Grass

I created this handcrafted book in collaboration with designer Tran Nguyen when I was a student of Comparative Literature at Brown University.

My goal was to challenge the norms of mass production, and  craft a book that is ‘one and only” in the world, with no replica . 

The volume contains translations of eight poems from Lu Xun’s Wild Grass series.  I translated the poems and worked closely with Tran on the creative concept for the design and layout.

As the title, “Wild Grass,” suggests, Lu Xun saw his writing as ephmeral, born of the sheer necessity of his times and not of a desire to create great literature for its own sake.

We tried to create a sense of impermanence through the aesthetics of the design. Hence the words are printed in black onto brown “butcher” paper, subverting the convention of printing on fine white paper.  Even the names of the creators on the cover are partially hidden by the use of translucent trace paper.

Shadow of Winged Shape Seeds

Next to the text of each poem is a weed or wild flower that is handsewn into a tracepaper pocket.  The shape of the weed evokes the sense of each poem. For instance, the poem”Kite” is juxtaposed against winged shaped seeds on the page across from it.  While “Farewell to A Shadow” is accented with languid , bending reeds. 

The weeds and wild flowers serve as poignant reminders of the delicacy and fragility of human existence.

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