March 28, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Review: Babel Via Negativa by Desmond Kon Zhicheng–Mingdé

1 min read

By Mandy Pannett

Babel Via Negativa Front Cover Desmond KonThis is a book about language – or rather a slantwise glance at its rich complexity, its failure and futility as a means of expression, the babble and babel of it all.

The first section of Babel Via Negativa has the intriguing title “Tweet Goes the Poplar Tree” and revels in juxtaposition and contradiction via single sentence poems. These defy explanation. Their appeal is emotive and associative, for the imagination alone. Among my favourite examples are the following:

A canzone flying, face half-lit.

Firebirds past sea levels.


A turn, hopscotch into the unknown meadows.


Open the bay window.

Like quiet light, Dedalus in a holy hour.

They doused the salted field with iodine and dreams.

Here. Between experience and utterance.

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