Author: Yang Zi

Yang Zi (1963– ), a proclaimed contemporary Chinese poet, is the author of a dozen books including Border Fast Train (1994), Gray Eyes (2000), and Rouge (2007). After his university studies in Chinese literature, he lived in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for nine years and co-founded the literary journal Big Bird. In 1990, he was appointed Vice Alderman of Tahaqi Village. Since 1993, he has lived in the southern coastal city, Guangzhou and now works as the Associate Chief Editor of the Nanfang People Weekly. Also known as a poetry translator, he has introduced the works of Osip Mandelshtam, Paul Celan, Fernando Pessoa, Gary Snyder, Charles Simic and other Western poets to Chinese readers.

Translator Bios
Ye Chun, a native of China, is the author of a book of poetry, Travel over Water (The Bitter Oleander Press, 2005) and a novel in Chinese, Peach Tree in the Sea (The People’s Literature Publishing house, 2011). With Fiona Sze-Lorrain, she has recently completed a book of translations of Hai Zi’s work, Wheat Has Ripened (forthcoming, Tupelo Press, 2012). Currently, she lives in Virginia.

Melissa Tuckey is the author of the chapbook Rope as Witness. (Pudding House Press, 2007). Her poems have been anthologized in Fire and Ink: An Anthology of Social Action and Poets for Palestine, as well as published in Beloit Poetry Journal, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Poet Lore, Verse Daily and other places. She is a co-founder of Split This Rock Poetry Festival in Washington, D.C. and a former recipient of a Fine Arts Work Center winter fellowship. She lives in Ithaca, New York.

Fiona Sze-Lorrain writes and translates in English, French and Chinese. Co-director of Vif éditions, an independent French publishing house in Paris, and one of the editors at Cerise Press, her recent work includes Water the Moon (Marick Press, 2010). Also a zheng concertist, she lives in France.

White Cloud & Black Face & Father

Translated by Ye Chun, Melissa Tuckey, and Fiona Sze-Lorrain

White Cloud

I sat on a knoll,
thinking I was sitting on a white cloud.
Just like that, I slept for twenty years.
Now I’m awake,
I see they’ve cut the white cloud into geometric fragments,
placed them in elaborate gift boxes,
and brought them to the market for sale.

Black Face

Wind soars.
Warm spring wind.

A dirty child at the railway station
and a sloppy old man.
They’re fighting for an empty beer bottle
someone threw away.

Like a wild cat, the child
jumps in front of the old man,
grabs this five-cent object.

He gets it,
but doesn’t smile.
He stamps it flat
and tosses it into a snake-skinned bag.

He lifts his face up.
So dark, so dirty!
Savage and stubborn,
like today’s life!

He whistles,
walks away like nothing happened,
the hunch-backed
mumbling old man who stands aside.

Wind soars.
Looks like it’ll rain.


(From a dream some days ago)

Father came back.
In my dream,
my long-departed father came back.
But why was the room leaking rain?
Why were all the people in the room strangers?
That night I drank too much coffee.
I dreamed such a strange dream
just ten minutes after falling asleep.
When I woke up, I felt a little guilty.
Why didn’t I repair the roof for Father?
Why didn’t I sweep the water out of the room
or ask those strangers
who they were, what they wanted?