Gao Xingjian does not write many poems, but the ones he has written are real gems; they are snippets of his reflective moods. To those of us who know the man, he is poetry incarnate, with the essential purity and density of a good poem. The present collection, his first and only poetry anthology in English translation, affords insights into Gao’s philosophy of freedom and the independence of spirit, and elucidates his ideas as a novelist, dramatist and painter. Modern art, claims Gao, is at a crisis point, under attack from all sides by onslaughts coming especially from politics and the marketplace, which results in what he calls the “annihilation” of beauty. We see Gao Xingjian as a natural, warm, and insightful thinker capable of grace, beauty, and his own brand of esoteric wisdom, at times almost honest to a fault but not without a touch of humor and wittiness. A riveting and compulsive read.