September 27, 2018 500 AM
MARFA – Jeffrey Yang came to Marfa as a Lannan Fellow in 2011, was here during the Rock House Fire and has returned with a collection of his poems in the volume “Hey, Marfa,” that speak to some specific history of the area, time and people, as well as his imaginings and understanding of the high desert and border life.
Jeffry Yang will read from his newly released book of poems on Wednesday, October 3, at 6pm at the Crowley Theater. A conversation about the poems, Marfa, and the Rackstraw Downes’ drawings will follow immediately with Tim Johnson.
Drawings by Rackstraw Downes, of Presidio and New York City, of the stretched wires of power transmission and substations in this area accompany the text.
Yang’s consideration of indigenous and immigrant populations that have traversed the landscape and cross this borderland are considered much the way the wires of Rackstraw Downes drawings carry us forward across the same land, taut or slack, looping along the landscape seen or unnoticed in their familiarity, silent or charged with electricity.
The vastness of time in the poems along with occasional close focus are reflected in the spare drawings with the intrusion of the hand of humans in substations and wires that pull our focus from the otherwise untouched landscape. The power stations in the drawings, and in Marfa itself, where many have stopped to power up, show the advantageous alignment of image and text.
Yang’s time, connection and his acute attention to place and specifically to Marfa, allow the local people and places an accuracy that is often overlooked. The more distant histories along the border and length of power lines we travel beside are fragments of lives passed and passing, a celebration of the border and high dust that follow along in memory.
Besides this most recent collection of poems Yang also works as an editor at New Directions and New York Review of Books, as a translator and was the winner of the PENJoyce Osterweil Award. Downes, a 2009 MacArthur Fellow, has published essays on artists and has paintings are widely collected in private and museum collections.