蚊子 Mosquitoes


I've heard others saying
that mosquitoes speak English
but in China I also don't understand them
I think it must be that they're plotting against the U.S.
that they are the terrorists . . .


Grandmother’s Mirror

Grandmother's mirror
placed on the table in front of the window
occasionally reflecting grandmother’s face
and occasionally mine
Grandmother’s mirror is round,
can be rotated
On the other side is a picture
of two horses
one with a red mane
and one white
Grandmother pointed to the horse with a red mane
and said to me
this horse is you

Wu Qing 乌青
from his blog: http://www.wuqing.org/


Mentally Strained

Killed the whole day,
Torturously thinking about eternity,
Reason and goodness . . .
Like a horse tired out,
The result is nil . . .

Mikhail Baru Михаил Бару
from Promise


Cologne Cathedral

When writing this title,
I face the peaks of Little Liangshan
I am unable to relate these beautiful peaks
to the Cologne Cathedral
as in my dank memory
incessantly flash
the beggars curled up at the foot of the cathedral
They wrap themselves up in black cloth
and if you don’t look carefully
they appear just like a pile of discarded things
Everyone deposits large handfuls
of money into the cathedral’s tithe boxes
but isn’t willing to give them even one coin

Luruodiji 鲁若迪基 - Pumi poet from China's southwest
from Luruodiji's Selected Poems



My elders
all clearly remember
how many teeth their cows and sheep
have lost
but don’t know which day their sons and daughters’ birthdays
are on

In Liangshan
cows and sheep are the elders’ banknotes
are their bricks for weighing fortunes
Compared to the age of their cows and sheep
the children’s birthdays
are trifles not worth mentioning

But I have to remember my son’s birthday
because now the cows and sheep
are few

Occasionally thinking of them________it’s best to
take those bills penned up in my pocket
and rush off to the pastures of the countryside
to while away withdrawal

Azhuo Wulin 阿卓务林 - Yi poet from China's southwest
from Heaven in my Ears

Purple Mist

A night in Chang’an
What is it since ancient times that floats between heaven and earth?
I say it’s purple mist
Someone else says
it’s haze

Yu Jian 于坚
from Anthology and Image


高鼻子 Big Nose



Make your nose
An angry hand comes to flatten my face
These are my wife’s words and actions
Every time I want to kiss her
to express my love
my white person’s tower
invades her two delicately shallow eyes

She has the face of a Chinese goddess
and I have a foreigner’s barbarian nose
Yet, which one of us lifts a hand in anger
and which one is truly gentle?


The River's Two Shores

In that night
not just one person swam across the river
On the other shore fire mounds crackled
Trees’ shadows
floated as if imperceptible
A person spoke loudly,
all eyes silently shut
The tree of myth all at once lost its leaves

The river was deep and serene
whose eyesight could penetrate it,
who believed sour dates and fish's sleep-talk?
On top of the precipice
only mountain spirits
chants that repeated again and again
The people, soles dancing wildly
after trampling the withered tree roots
suddenly halted
The flint was continuously struck,
many faces never made out clearly

In that night
not just one person swam across the river
For a long long time
the sound of arms plowing through the water carried on

Shama 沙马 - Yi poet from China's southwest
from The Olive Tree in a Dream



Русский урок Russian Homework

Я люблю переводить поэзию.
Poetry translates I
Ты любишь поэзию?
you too?
Я? Нет, я ненавижу поэзию всего мира.
me? i hate mirrored words
Правда? Почему ты не любишь читать поэзии?
What-why no linking chain to poe-try
Потому что мне нравится водка.
answer is vodka
Ах, коннечно! Я пью водку очень плохо.
Ahh cannon! I implode on vodkoo
Я знаю. Твоя поэзия дешевле, чем твоя водка.
exactly, poetry cheapens true vodka
дий дайтон

Tree Stumps 树桩

In order to beautify the environment, the university fabricated a bunch of what looks like sawed-off tree stumps out of cement. Both big and smalls trees were copied — they’re quite real looking — and then they used these cement stumps as fences, benches, etc. It gives people the impression that there was once a forest here, but now it has all been cut down leaving the stumps all over the place. This is what’s called teaching through the environment. These tree stumps lead me to believe that a constituency of lumberjacks runs this university.

July, 1999

Yu Jian 于坚
from Brown-cover Notebook - Loose-leaf Binder


It's Cold as Lemons 柠檬似的寒冷

The weather
like a lemon
is souring my fruitless journey
through the icy



intent 意图

My intention in creating this space is to share some of the poetry, prose, and ideas that I've been reading (and writing) recently. Between Chinese and English (and sometimes Russian) I am attempting to bridge the ocean between readers and create a channel of conversation. Thus, I'm placing here my translations of poems and prose with the goal of accessibility for all. Although I do hope to be able to formally publish some of this material in the future, for the time being these pieces should be considered works-in-progress. (The rights of the work still rest with the original authors.)It is also my specific intention to share some of the less often read work of writers outside the main current, such as China's ethnic minorities, Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, and other writers from the 'periphery'. My own interests focus on how languages with global currency (English being the penultimate example) are torqued and re-formed to bring different (multiple) voices to light within texts. Therefore, in translation I hope to present and participate in this transmutive process.

我建立这个空间的意图是想和大家分享我最近着重在看(或在写)的诗歌、散文和观点。在中文和英文(或俄文)读者之间,我想架桥跨海,创造一个对话渠道。为此,我在这里放上我诗歌和写作的翻译稿。目前这个网站上所有的写作都只是草稿,尽管我也希望能有机会正式发表。(原作家仍拥有所有权。)我的意图也是为了分享一些不经常被阅读的、主流之外的作家的写作; 比如中国少数民族作家、美洲本土作家(印第安人)、澳大利亚土著作家、和其他的‘边缘’作家。我本人的关注点聚集在:全球通用的语言(如英文)如何在文本里被不同的(多元的)声音转矩和再形成。因此,我也希望我的翻译能展现并参与这种变动的过程。