Archive for 2013年6月


6月 28, 2013

taikonauts_return Yi Sha Vater FAZ 13-06-27

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 2013-06-27 page 25

Yi Sha

under mao zedong
we had starry nights
we had vast starry skies
people lifting their heads
one summer night
it was father and i
father told me
about the universe
about a cosmonaut
yuri gagarin
flying in space
my mouth stood open
like a barn door
thank you, father
my heavenly father
in a dark corner
of north korea
measuring 9,600,000
square kilometers
among hundreds of millions
malnourished blockheads
i was the smartest
did not see the future
but i saw space


Tr. MW, 2013

Shenzhou 10 news videos (BBC)

Taikonauts Dragonboat Tiangong shenzou-capsule




Tiangong lecture

Wang Yaping 王亞平 teaching from space

Concentrating on private impressions and conversations in published poems is self-evident for many, maybe for most people who read, write, translate, edit such stuff. But China, and also Taiwan to a certain extent, have put into question art, books, beauty, skills, traditions, language- anything had to serve the Party, and what the Party couldn’t use could not exist. Capitalism does it too, everything that doesn’t pay, that we can’t finance, cannot remain. They get along splendidly, finance and centralized state, Mao and the Mammon. That’s how the modern world was developed.


“Beneath our feet, we couldn’t see through dust and ash, rank growth of old. Father holding his iron staff, asking me: ‘Are you afraid?’ Oh, I raised my head, Orion sparkling right in the middle, space reverberations sounding from eons– falling silently, are those meteors, one blue whiplash after the other?” 流星記事, Meteor Account, or Meteor Accounts, by Zhu Fengming 祝凤鸣 (Oct. 1996). Nick Kaldis just showed me his translation of Meteor Account, from a dozen Chinese poems in the magazine Dirty Goat (#24 February 2011).The quote above is in my own translation, I couldn’t resist. Rank growth of old – 古蟒 or 古莽? Nick Kaldis thinks there might be a misprint. (“古蟒 would refer to a snake known from fossil remains, the Paleopython, while 古莽 refers to rank grass.”). 祝凤鸣,男,1964年生于安徽宿松县… Zhu Fengming (born 1964) is a geologist from Anhui.




















The existence of space. Of God(s). Yin-yang, fengshui. Existence of wonder. Or the other way, wonder of existence. Outside the Party. Very much among the common people on the other hand, in the countryside, barefoot doctors, and so on, in the rest of Zhu Fengming’s poem.
Yes, 蟒 (mang3) may be a misprint for the homophonous character 莽 (mang3). 古莽之國, the ancient uncultured state. The Book of Liezi. 古莽之國,出《列子周穆王第三》,屬迺古三國。三國者何也?古莽之國、中央之國、阜落之國也。蓋處天地之外、神話之中,事未可徵,史未可考。古莽之地,陰陽不交,寒暑不辨;民不衣不食而多眠,五旬一覺,而以夢為真,真為妄也。(Wikipedia)

Space, spaceflight. A great achievement. “Sister killed her baby ’cause she couldn’t afford to feed it we are sending people to the moon.” Prince, Sign o’ the Times. Really, I think they should have written more about this in the international papers. Yes, it worked, no-one died, Wang Yaping 王亞平 teaching from space, tens of millions watching and listening to her. A great leap, a giant leap, really. Responsibility, great responsibility. How many things could go wrong, in space, for the nation. Planning everything, the very opposite of wu wei. That’s how the famine came. No space for real wondering. Everything organized, all propaganda, all of the nation. They are planning, they have begun to move hundreds of millions more to the cities. Destroying small farms, villages, settlements, temples. Like they destroyed the ancient cities.

They should write about spaceflight, every time. I have to get back to my daughter. Show her the videos from Shenzhou 10.

Yi Sha’s poem is from 2003, from the beginning of these missions 10 years ago.

An old song about moon flights (via Nick Kaldis)

Kosice (科西策)

6月 23, 2013

Kosice diary

Lovely town. Sleepy. Great central square. Or main street. Everybody out there on Friday night, who is not in the other beer gardens. Or begging. First rain-free night in ages, maybe. Rivers all full. Still chilly, just a little. Blankets on the seats outside. Great cathedral, we haven’t been inside yet. They had a great mass, with TV. People standing on the steps outside, and kneeling. Wonder how it was under Socialism. Much sleepier? Sleep of reason breeds … how does that go? What reason? Goya. Modernism, Kosice Modernism. An exhibition advertised around town, or a book, or an event. In Slovak, so I’m not sure. 。。。(click for more)

Olomouc diary

Brno poem (We don’t know where the light comes from)

Trebic poem (Typical Central European town, Jewish heritage etc.)

2011 poem (a year of protests, dissidents…)


6月 7, 2013

What is Chinese literature about? Exile, inner exile. Inside China, banished. Happened to many poets through the ages, including the most famous. Or voluntary exile, to be somewhere else, not among the people. 别有天地非人間。Teaching Latin in a high school in Vienna, a friend of our uses Du Fu 杜甫. Du Fu, Brecht, Theodor Kramer, Guido Zernatto. She teaches Latin, so exile comes from Ovid. Epistulaes ex ponto. From Casablanca. No, it’s that port city on the Black Sea, in Romania. Constantza. Like Tristan Tzara. Z or S? Whatever. Du Fu. They use an old edition from the 1930s. Brought into verse by H. Not just translated, not directly. That’s how they used to do it. Gustav Mahler’s 馬勒 Song of the Earth 大地之歌 came from Li Bai 李白 (Li Tai-po), Wang Wei 王維 and Meng Haoran 孟浩然, through many versions in different languages in between. Mahler wrote the final versions to fit his music. Two poems by different poets merged into one, at the end. No, that Du Fu edition is very accurate, from the feel of it. Two great volumes, large and thick. Not rhymed. But rather formal. Not luosuo 羅嗦. No superfluos words. Hardly. Again, from the feel of it, I haven’t checked, just listened and read. Listened, our friends read well. Very down-to-earth, daily details. Ants, chicken. Fencing in chicken, thinking about it. A reference to the times, the circumstances. Suddenly becoming political, as our friend says. Towards the end. A moral at the end, maybe more in this German version than in Chinese. Circumstances, Du Fu’s circumstances. He always complains, says our friend. Very down-to-earth, very daily life. Strife, poverty, famine. Starving on the streets. We have a master’s thesis on Tang Poetry social critique in Vienna, from 1990. Anna Maria Eigner. Bai Juyi 白居易, many different poets. Li Shangyin 李商隐 wrote a lot about poverty in the countryside. Not in is most famous poems, unfortunately.

Daddy, who is this?
He is called Li Bifeng. I just translated a poem by him. He is in prison. They are all in prison. This one is a writer, too.
Why is he in prison?
He took part in protests, demonstrations. Demonstration, you remember what that is? Yes, we were in one together this year.
Where is this?
This is in China.
What else did he do?
He organized strikes. Do you know what strikes are?
Strikes are when workers in a factory say they won’t work, all of them. To get better pay. To get insurance, you know what that is? When you are sick, to get money from insurance so you can get a doctor, go to hospital.

Daddy, are there any places with no government?
Good question. There are some places where women are in charge. They own the land, they run things. Used to. Sometimes still do. Places in China.
Well, they should. Women are important. Women bear children.
I don’t know if there are any places with no government. There are some places with not many people at all. Deserts, mountains.

A Yu (born 1994)

he jumped from the top of the building
he was dead
it wasn’t like he had seen it
on tv
on tv
the contractor who owed migrant workers
when he heard someone would jump
right away he came out with his pay
but this time
no-one held him back
that’s how he died

Tr. MW, 2013
A Yu Doku


6月 7, 2013

Olomouc art museum collection

Olomouc diary
March 27, 2013
Train connection from vienna worked just fine. Half an hour at the border station of břeclav, used it for a short walk, had a big laugh over buying powidl kolačni or so. Tram to down town, found the hostel immediately. Friendly aussies, still.
Weather better than in vienna- at least no snow, and a little bit of sun.

Went out to have lunch in a micro brewery first, then on to the art museum, which has free admission on wednesdays and sundays. Some very strong and original modern stuff here, as well as a lot of boring derivatives.

Tired, both from the museum and the beer with lunch.

Waiting for martin, who went back up to photograph a couple of paintings.

Started talking about all the things we want done in a week- time alone, time together, dissertation writing… I think there just aren’t enough hours in a week. But we will keep working on it.

Went home, Martin quite exhausted. i had gotten a second wind and went out for pizza, which was quite sufficient after a late and massive lunch.

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March 28, 2013, olomouc

Next day martin got yoghurt and pastries for breakfast, in a little shop right around the corner, one of these super- narrow slots in a lovely pink art nouveau building with white friezes round the windows.

Did some soul searching on whether to stay one more night. Martin phoned his parents, and they said, fine. Private room was booked already, so we got a dorm room to ourselves, at 600 crowns instead of 900 (24 vs. 36 EUR).

Went to see the town some more, including the noon-day astronomical clock, playing music on its bells and showing happy members of the working classes. Sent postcards to our respective parents. Asked tourist info about concerts that day. No, we would not drive to Brno for that. Girl in the tourist office slightly clueless. Post office right on the square.

Also bought some chapstick, found a minimalist czech version, good quality, but just a tiny amount stuck in a plastic holder. If it gets warm, you have one mess. But hey, it is still winter, and at 11 crowns i am not going to complain.

Had lunch in a place at the university, bishop’s square. Then went home to veg out a bit and even sleep some.

Caught a little concert in the museum of modern art, 50 crown entrance fee. For that, a middle aged lady who sang chansons in czech, her friend the guitar player, the pianist, and the hand drum (hang drum?) player. All very spontaneous, family- like, with the audience humming or singing along occasionally. Not too long, either, stopped just in time for dinner. Back at the lovely micro brewery, which was packed with young people. Another lovely dinner.

And so off to the hostel, chatting a bit to some finnish and portuguese travellers, and off to the bunk beds.


Olomouc art museum collection


Olomouc art museum collection


Olomouc art museum collection

March 30, 2013, train from olomouc to vienna.
Bit cold in the morning,woke up from that. Snow/ sleet falling. Managed a shower, and breakfast, and were out at the railway station in good time. Trains a bit delayed, but we should be home on time. Nice lunch at the breclav railway station canteen, new and clean place with the loveliest bathrooms.

Head in Breclav

Head in Breclav

Olomouc art museum collection

Olomouc art museum collection

Worldwide Reading

6月 1, 2013

WWR Li Bifeng Plakat

In the summer of 1992, in a vegetable garden on the roof of a shed housing inmates of the Sichuan Province Prison # 1, I spent three days alone with the old prisoner Zhang Fafu, who had been transferred to this prison at Nanchong from forced labor at a coal mine. Our task was to build a wall out of plastic parts and wire at the side where the roof garden faced the bathing pool, to prevent other prisoners from secretly watching the women taking their baths down below. I got this assignment at that time because my sentence was short, I was working at the kiosk of my unit and wasn’t considered a common criminal. So the cadre chose that old prisoner from the coal mine and me.

From the second day on he told me everything about himself. From his talking, I could feel the jolts in his soul. He had attended high school before Liberation in 1949, he loved reading and understood a lot of things; he even liked poetry. He asked me so often until I had no choice but to give him one of the poems I had written. A few days later, I was transferred. After I arrived at Prison # 3, someone from # 1 came to go over my accounts. That’s when I heard something happened to Zhang Fafu. He had taken the plastic parts from our wall, tied them to is arms and jumped from a building. He wasn’t dead, but he became a vegetable.

I don’t know if he read my poem. Later, when I was released from Prison # 3 upon completion of my sentence, I stuffed the original manuscript of this poem into a bamboo flute I had got from Liao Yiwu, and blocked the hole at the bottom with soap. This way I got to take the poem with me. All these years, whenever I think of Zhang Fafu, I think of our plastic wall. It’s not the same as the wall in my poem, but now I cannot separate the poem from Zhang Fafu.

Tr. MW, 2013

Translator’s note: Li Bifeng’s NOTE and the following poem ( are part of his novel Wings In The Sky (天空中的翅膀). One chapter is available on the LIBIFENG2012 WordPress site. The main characters are an old prisoner, a bird and a woman who lives in a shed not far from the prison with her daughter. The plot is rather interesting.

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