Under Shadows of Stars

This collection, Under Shadows of Stars, explores the dreamlike illusion of reality in every day life, including the end of the illusion at death. The premise is explored in various ways in all my poems, where as a child I often wondered “what life would be like if dreams/were waking time, and waking time dreams.” Born in Hong Kong, a child of Chinese refugees after World War II, my father’s dream was to give us freedom by moving to the United States. His dream became the challenge of our reality.  As an English translator of Tibetan Buddhist texts, I was struck by the images of dreamlike illusion used as definitions of reality in Buddhist thought. Two verses from two different Buddhist scriptures are included as epigraphs that influenced the shape of this collection.

Praise for the book


“In these poems, Annie Bien does what so few poets are able to do – to tell stories while never being prosaic. There is warmth here, and a simplicity that is never simple. You want to read these poems quickly, almost as one would a novel, but when you slow down each line strikes you for its muscularity, its strength of lyricism, its wonder.”

—Kei Miller, poet and author, Augustown


“These poems - stylistically very varied - share a rich and compassionate observation of personal and larger history. The poems brim with humour and tenderness for the particulars of life and lives, cherished and sometimes mourned. Illuminating the whole collection is a Buddhist philosophy that is never crudely imposed but permits a wide and gentle view.” 

—Elizabeth Cook, poet and author, Achilles


“Annie Bien’s poems are evocative and deeply personal, touching upon themes common to the human condition, of love, loss, family, childhood, and place. Her study of Buddhist philosophy, in particular the concept of emptiness and the illusion-like nature of ultimate reality, have influenced Annie both explicitly (citing and using lines from the famous Samadhiraja Sutra) and implicitly, enabling her to reframe and read afresh life experiences in the context of the agency and freedom such a vast view affords. This is very inspiring. I highly recommend this book of poems.”  

—Geshe Dorji Damdul, Tibet House New Delhi

Published by Kelsay Books/Aldrich Press www.kelsaybooks.com             

Photo Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STSc/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration