Chinese Poetry at Epiphany

The journal Epiphany, with Nick Admussen as poetry editor, has published a suite of contemporary Chinese pieces, including the following:

  • Chun Sue 春树 (translated by Martin Winter)
  • Mu Cao 墓草 (translated by Scott E. Myers)
  • Liu Waitong 廖偉棠 (translated by Audrey Heijins)
  • Xiao Kaiyu 肖开愚 (translated by Christopher Lupke)
  • Haizi 海子 (translated by Nick Kaldis)
  • Sai Sai (Xi Xi) 西西 (translated by Jennifer Feeley)
  • Hsia Yü 夏宇 (translated by Steve Bradbury)
  • Yao Feng 姚风 (translated by Tam Hio Man and Kit Kelen)
  • Han Dong 韩东 (translated by Nicky Harman)
  • Huang Lihai 黄礼孩 (translated by Song Zijiang)

Click the image above for an online sample, including pieces by Mu Cao and Hsia Yü:

He says the world is very big
We should go outside and look around
That’s how one wards off sadness
We should go to a gay bathhouse in Beijing
And experience group sex with a hundred people
Or go to Dongdan Park, or Sanlihe, or Madian
And know a different kind of lust
If I could visit Yellow Crane Tower
I’d have new inspiration for writing poems
He says all the great artists
Were fine comrades like us

I Speak of Blood: The poetry of Foxconn worker Xu Lizhi

The China Labour Bulletin has posted my translations of some poems of Xu Lizhi 许立志, a twenty-four year-old worker at Foxconn who committed suicide on September 30, 2014. As CLB reports, “In his brief two-year tenure as a production line worker at Foxconn, Xu published more than 30 articles in the in-house magazine Foxconn People.

Here’s a sample of his work in my translation:

I speak of blood, because I can’t help it
I’d love to talk about flowers in the breeze and the moon in the snow
I’d love to talk about imperial history, about poems in wine
But this reality only lets me speak of blood


The blogger 鬧 has also posted translations of a different suite of Xu’s poems at libcom, and Martin Winter has his own versions in English and in German.


Liao Yiwu, Meng Huang, Maria Rosen: Performance in Stockholm

Liao Yiwu 廖亦武 reading his poem “The Massacre”, Meng Huang 孟煌 reading his “Letter to Liu Xiaobo in Prison” and Maria Rosén singing the Swedish folksong “Ballad from Roknäs”, 19th March 2013, 9 pm, Sergels Torg, Stockholm, Sweden

[from Martin Winter]

A Worldwide Reading for Li Bifeng

300 Modern & Contemporary Chinese Poems

Collections of the “three hundred best poems” have been popular in China ever since the Three Hundred Tang Poems 唐詩三百首, compiled in 1763 by Sun Zhu 孫洙 (a/k/a Hengtang Tuishi 衡塘退士, “the Retiree from Hengtang”), and that anthology was probably riffing off the Shijing 詩經 (The Classic of Poetry), whose “three hundred poems” were supposed to have been culled by Confucius.

Now, as reported on Martin Winter’s blog some time ago, poet Zhao Siyun 赵思运 has put together his list of the best poems of the twentieth century (or, from 1917 – 2011), the Three Hundred Chinese New Poems 中国新诗 300 首. In its breadth it’s not a bad representation of the most significant modern and contemporary Chinese poets; it’s mainland-heavy, at the expense of Hongkong, Macau, and Taiwanese poets, but that’s no surprise. Still, with 236 poets by my count, it’s easy to be broadly representative, but of course it’s limited to only a few poems by each poet, leaving a lot to be desired by way of depth (as a point of comparison, I count 77 in the Three Hundred Tang Poems, with some poets having as many as thirty pieces). Here’s the entry, for instance, for Xi Chuan, who at three poems is about as broadly represented as it gets, though only with early poems:

  • 西川 (1963— )/ 在哈尔盖仰望星空 / 停电 / 虚构的家谱

For a sense of whether these poems are representative of Xi Chuan’s work, know that he and I decided to include only one, “Power Outage,” in Notes on the Mosquito.