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Watch: US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith at The Bookworm

In case you missed our poetry event last month headlined by the current U.S. poet laureate, Tracy K. Smith, here’s a video from that night’s proceedings. (Excuse us for the camera placement at the start, we got it fixed very quickly!)

Here’s a rundown of the poems that were read, with timestamps corresponding to the above video:

6:10: Simon Shieh – Little Snow
13:00: Kassy Lee – Master of Beijing; 14:50 – Every 28 Hours, A New Name for Bloodred
17:30: Anthony Tao – That Absent Person | WATCH
23:00: Ming Di – Between Here and There (from “River Merchant’s Wife”); 25:40 – Looking for Maya
31:50: Mario Bojorquez, several poems
49:20: Yi Lei – Love’s Dance (情舞)
50:40: Introduction to Tracy K. Smith
53:10: Tracy K. Smith, several poems | WATCH

Event host Anthony Tao wrote about Smith’s visit to Beijing for SupChina, which you can read here.

US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith is Coming to Beijing Bookworm

UPDATE: We’ve posted the full video from the event here.

Attention, poetry lovers: there’s a true can’t-miss event coming up on Monday, October 9 at 7:30 pm, when the current poet laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith, comes to The Bookworm in Beijing to give a reading. This will be the first time a sitting US poet laureate has spoken at our humble bookshop.


Smith is the author of three books of poetry. Her 2011 collection, Life on Mars, won the Pulitzer Prize. As The New York Times described it, “As all the best poetry does, ‘Life on Mars’ first sends us out into the magnificent chill of the imagination and then returns us to ourselves, both changed and consoled.”

Smith will be joined by an all-star lineup, including award-winning Mexican poet/translator Mario Bojórquez, prolific Chinese poet/artist Yi Lei, and renowned poet/translator Ming Di. Rounding out the readers are community poets who are active in and have made significant contributions to the local creative arts scene: Matthew Byrne, the creator and managing director of Spittoon [UPDATE: Byrne will not be able to attend]; Simon Shieh, editor-in-chief of Spittoon Literary Magazine and the Beijing Youth Literary Review; and Kassy Lee, co-founder of Transmigrant Flow and Asia coordinator of the Visible Poetry Project.

The event will be hosted by Anthony Tao, a poetry editor and former Bookworm Literary Festival coordinator.

Tickets are on sale now at The Bookworm. The full lineup follows.

Tracy K. Smith is the current U.S. Poet Laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her 2011 poetry collection Life on Mars. Her long-awaited fourth book of poetry, Wade in the Water, will be published in April 2018. Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light, was a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction. She is currently director of the creative writing program at Princeton University.

Mario Bojórquez, Mexican poet and translator, is co-founder and editor of the internationally renowned journal Círculo de Poesía and founder of the Valparaíso Ediciones México publishing house. He directs the Encuentro Internacional de Poesía Ciudad de México. He has published numerous books of poetry and translation and won awards from Spain and Latin America as well as national awards in Mexico.

Yi Lei, Chinese poet and artist, studied creative writing at the Lu Xun Academy and the Writers’ Program at Peking University. She has published eight collections of poems, among them A Single Woman’s Bedroom, The Love Poems of Yi Lei, and Women’s Age. She spent ten years in Russia as an art dealer and currently lives in Songzhuang artist village.

Ming Di is a Chinese poet based in Los Angeles and a literary translator with publications of four books of poetry from English to Chinese. She has also co-translated four books from Chinese to English, including Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press). She organizes poetry projects and is the China editor of Poetry International Rotterdam.

Matthew Byrne is a British poet who completed his MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2009. He is the founder and director of Spittoon, an arts organization and literary magazine based in Beijing with branches in Chengdu and Suzhou. He has overseen Spittoon’s expansion to include a monthly poetry, fiction, and slam poetry night in Beijing, plus a poetry-music collaboration called Spit-Tunes. [UPDATE: Byrne will not be able to attend]

Simon Shieh is an American poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in GristKartika ReviewCALAMITYAztec Literary Review, and others. Simon is director of InkBeat Arts, an organization dedicated to empowering young people through artistic expression, and the writer-in-residence at the International School of Beijing. He is also the editor-in-chief of Spittoon Literary Magazine and Beijing Youth Literary Review.

Kassy Lee is an American poet and author of the chapbooks The Period of Warring States (Another New Calligraphy, 2017) and zombia (dancing girl press, 2014). She is the co-founder of Transmigrant Flow, an arts collective that curates experimental events that foster racial inclusivity. She is also the Asia coordinator for the Visible Poetry Project, which brings together poets and filmmakers to produce short films in honor of National Poetry Month.

EVENT HOST Anthony Tao is a writer and editor in Beijing whose poetry has appeared in journals such as Prairie SchoonerKartika ReviewAsian ChaPoetry East West, etc. (see more at He is the founding editor of the news/society/culture website Beijing Cream and previously coordinated the international China Bookworm Literary Festival. He is also co-captain of Beijing’s premier Ultimate Frisbee team.

Word of Mouth: Poetry at The Bookworm – December 15

Poetry tree

The Bookworm’s monthly poetry open mic returns on Tuesday, December 15. Those who are interested in reading their work should email to sign up for a five-minute slot. (more…)

The Bookworm’s Poetry Open Mic This Tuesday


Everyone could use more poetry in their lives. The Bookworm’s monthly poetry open mic is tomorrow. Words begin at 8 pm, and it’s free to spectate. Those who are interested in reading their work should email to sign up for a five-minute slot. (more…)

Poetry Beijing tonight, FREE

Bookworm 10 Poetry

We have a great double-header planned tonight, a pair of community events that celebrates the literary arts scene here in Beijing. Both events are free, and both promise to be a fun time. Up first: Poetry Beijing, which will be presented by Liz Richards and Matthew Byrne, who each run their own monthly poetry events. (Liz hosts Word of Mouth The Bookworm, and Matt hosts Spittoon at Mado Bar.) (more…)

An Evening with Swedish Poetry, August 27

Swedish Poetry

Four poets from Sweden will come together at The Bookworm next Thursday (August 27, 7:30pm) in a free reading, touching on memories, identities, personal and philosophical perspectives on life and love. 

The poems will be read in English, with the text projected behind them in both English and Chinese. (more…)

Lineup Announced for The Bookworm Mini-Poetry Festival (Aug 19)

Duo Duo

The lineup is set for tomorrow’s poetry event at The Bookworm, which will also feature stunning artwork from Lin Jiayue, a Chinese artist who studied in the US and the UK. (more…)

Announcing: The Bookworm Mini-Poetry Festival, Featuring Poets from Around the World

Ming Di

Ming Di

In the coming two weeks we are honored to host international poets in Beijing, who have made their way here from the Qinghai Lake Poetry Festival, which gathers hundreds of poets from around the world for poetry readings, concerts, and the opportunity to engage in cultural exchange. There will be a free event this Wednesday at The Bookworm (6 pm), and another one next Wednesday featuring poetry in multiple languages. (more…)

Check Out “Word of Mouth,” The Bookworm’s Monthly Poetry Open Mic

Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth is Beijing’s premier poetry open-mic night. Come check it out tomorrow (Tuesday) at 8 pm — a great lineup has taken shape, and there are a few spots still available. If you’re interested in reading, contact Liz at (more…)

Photo Gallery – Interschool Poetry Extravaganza!

On Friday, YCIS and ISB wordsmiths displayed their poetry chops at The Poetry Project’s Interschool Poetry Slam. They were, in a word, amazing.

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Building 4, Nan Sanlitun Road,

Chaoyang District, Beijing

100027, P.R China

Telephone Bar: (010) 6586 9507

Telephone Bookstore: (010) 6503 2050


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