Essays


Gallery of Contemporary Chinese Poetry, A Poem from Each Poet

 

Shu Cai


Shu Cai (Chen Shucai) 树才 was born in Fenghua, Zhejiang, in 1965. He majored in French at Beijing Foreign Studies University, graduating in 1987. He worked as a diplomat in the Chinese embassy in Senegal from 1990 through 1994. Since 2000, he has worked at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in the Foreign Literature Research Institute. He currently lives in Beijing. His publications include, among others, a poetry collection entitled Alone, and an essay collection entitled Peeking. His work has been translated into many languages, including French, English, Spanish, Italian, and Arabic. He has also translated and published poetry collections including Selected Poems of Pierre Reverdy, Selected Poems of Rene Char, and Selected Poems of Yves Bonnefoy. In 2008, he received the Order des Palmes Academiques (Order of Academic Palms) from the French government.


The Everything of Everything

Slowly. The everything of everything 
in the drawers of memory

will find its own place.
After lightning ends, the sky is empty again.

Thunder's accomplice will perhaps be in the next moment. 
The sound of thunder doesn't necessarily know. 

The hand of the river's flow that Nature extends
is also spinning the prayer wheel for emptiness.

Human beings? They have different worries. 
The gaze can never rise beyond the forehead. 

Just stitch one good poem, in the heart's apex—
as good as the six-word mantra.

Our train is the same spring-summer-autumn-winter train,
heading to an unnamed future.

How many peaks as tall as the sky still can't be climbed?
How many creatures anxiously wish to plunge into the mother's womb?

Slowly, everything slips toward another everything . . .
and everyone will surely make way for another.

Slowly. The everything 
of everything: is nothingness!

 

一切的一切

慢慢的。一切的一切
都会在记忆的抽屉里,

各自找到自己的位子。
闪电过后,天又空了。

炸雷的同谋该是下一刻?
雷声自己也未必知道。

大自然伸出河流之手,
为空空如也转着经筒。

人类?他们的心事不同。
目光总是高不过额头。

只缝一句好诗,在心尖—
好得像六字真言。

我们的火车是同一列春夏秋冬,
开往不知姓名的未来。

多少峰顶仍天空般高不可攀?
多少生灵还焦急地要投进娘胎?

慢慢的,一切都滑向另一切……
一个人也必将让位给另一个……

慢慢的。一切的
一切:空空如也!

10/2010

Translated by Jami Proctor-Xu

 

Zhang Zao


Widely considered one of the most influential and innovative poets of his generation, Zhang Zao 张枣 held a PhD in philosophy from the University of Trier. His poetry relies on a philosophical underpinning even as it maintains a delicate tension between traditional Chinese verse and a modern sensibility gleaned in part from many years spent living, studying, and teaching in Germany. His work often displays an explosive imagination that sometimes borders on the surreal, but the emotional power behind it is always genuine. Proficient in four languages, Zhang was also highly regarded as a translator; he brought the work of Rainer Maria Rilke, Paul Celan, René Char, and many other poets to a Chinese readership. In 2010 at the age of forty-eight, he died from lung cancer, cutting short an illustrious and still-developing literary career.


The Sixth Method

If all five kinds have been used up
still staying on the outside of the vastness
it can't be touched, it can't be shut
like a medicine that examines a chronic sickness
there's no hope, it's best to swim away like a comet.

So the fine dust on my face will startle me awake
I see clearly a strand of gliding drunkenness
and the long ice-melting wind of a strange land
blows the light into brightness, into darkness
it makes me turn hot and cold toward you

Going through the equally blundering landscape
the verdant rocks, the nestling on the other side,
the bright moon from morning to night illuminates
yesterday
and the flowing water, the endlessly flowing water
makes the displays above and below change and
change again

 

第六种办法

如果用尽了全部的五种
还是置身在苍茫之外
摸不到,合也合不上
像一片推敲宿疾的药片
灰心,只好彗星一样游开

那么迎面的纤尘会惊醒我
我看清一丝移弋的醉态
和融冰的异地长风
把光明吹得忽明忽暗
让我冷暖不定,朝向你

透过一样错误的山水
青翠的石头,另一边的依偎
皓月朝夕照亮昨天
还有流水,天天不已的流水
把上下的陈设变了又变

Translated by Eleanor Goodman and Wang Ao

 

Huang Guangqing


Huang Guangqing 黃廣青 is the Chinese penname of Enoch Ng Kwang Cheng, who is the founding editor of First Fruits Publications—Singapore's foremost venue for contemporary English and Chinese verse—and one of the most innovative and allusive poets writing in Chinese today. A collection of his verse was recently translated into English by the writer and literary translator Yeo Wei Wei under the title Landfall Day: Selected Poems by Ng Kwang Cheng. Winner of the 2005 Singapore National Arts Council Golden Point Award for Poetry, "Family Matters" is a lapidary meditation on recent Chinese history and the traumatic changes that have taken place in the wake of China's decision to embrace a now-nearly global commodity culture in which, as Marx once put it, "All that is solid melts into air. . . . "


Family Matters

(5) After the Fall

Seeds
run avian distances
flourish or wither what matter?
color TV
ruminating
gunfire
the image on the screen as before
the sunny prior to fall
children are paddy rice
scooters are beetles
streetlights are matches
airplanes are bats
the floodwaters our father who art

 

(5) 秋後

種子
跑到鳥遠
無所謂榮枯
彩電
吞吐
槍聲
畫面依旧是
秋前的晴朗:
小孩是稻米
機車是甲蟲
路燈是火柴
飛機是蝙蝠
大水是父親

Translated by Steve Bradbury


EDITORIAL NOTE: Read more poems by each of these poets in the full print or digital edition of Chinese Literature Today.

From Chinese Literature Today Vol. 2 No.2

Current Issue
March 2011 Issue

Volume 2, No. 2

 

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Table of Contents

VOLUME 2, NUMBER 2

FEATURED AUTHOR: YI SHA

CHINESE LITERATURE/GLOBAL CONTEXTS

A GALLERY OF CONTEMPORARY CHINESE POETRY

SPECIAL SECTION: THE LANGUAGE OF TRANSLATION

SPECIAL SECTION: ETHNIC MINORITY POETRY AND POETICS

FEATURED SCHOLAR: YUE DAIYUN

IN EVERY ISSUE

  • Editor's Note
  • Contributors
  • Chinese Literature in Review

ON THE COVER “Hiding in the City – No. 92 Temple of Heaven” by Liu Bolin

BOOK REVIEWS

  • Mo Yan, Frog
  • John A. Crespi, Voices in Revolution: Poetry and the Auditory Imagination in Modern China
  • Yang Lian, The Narrative Poem
  • Li Hui, The Legend of Huang Yongyu
  • Wang Xiaoni, Some Flashes of My Mind
  • Ai Mi, Hawthorn Tree Forever
  • Xi Chuan, Personal Preferences
  • Su Tong, Boat to Redemption
  • Ge Fei, The Fall of the Last Blossom

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