Influenced by surrealism, philosophy, and critical theory, Xu composes poems engaged with structure on an intimate level, simultaneously unraveling and accruing. Poet Ben Lerner, in his 2010 introduction to Xu’s work in the Boston Review, describes Xu as an “expert at multiplying sites of resonance and ambiguity” and praises “Xu’s ability to make the poetic line a little theater where the belatedness of language is felt—and sometimes lulled into suspension.”
In a 2013 interview with Anis Shivani for the Huffington Post, Xu stated, “I'd like to believe that what I learn comes from my ability to forget. I've always consigned this to be a defect of my intellect, but now that I've lived thirty years with this engine of a mind, I am making an effort to embrace my forgetfulness as a valiant feature of understanding. I am growing, in spite of what I know.”
Xu is the author of the poetry collection Debts & Lessons (2013), and her work was featured in Best American Poetry 2008, edited by Charles Wright. Her honors include a Fulbright Fellowship and a William L. Magistretti Fellowship. An editor for Canarium Books, Xu divides her time between Marfa, Texas, and Stuttgart, Germany.