Archive for the ‘1962’ Category


六月 23, 2019

Tu Ya

in her mother’s womb
she stayed seven months
and came among the people,
weight only two pounds 16 ounces.
Mother asks army doctor,
will it live?
Brain development normal,
extremities sound,
says the doctor.
Mother sighs with relief,
oh, as long as it can serve the people,
that’s fine.

Translated by MW, June 2019


Tu Ya

sie war sieben Monate
in der Gebärmutter
und kam unter die Menschen,
nur ein Kilo fünfundvierzig.
Mutter fragt Militärarzt
kann es überleben?
Gehirnausbildung normal,
Extremitäten richtig entwickelt,
antwortet der Arzt.
Mutter atmet auf.
Oh, solange es dem Volke dienen kann,
bin ich froh.

Übersetzt von MW im Juni 2019





五月 6, 2019

Zhou Xian

Wir sprachen von Daten sammeln,
die Spreu vom Weizen trennen.
Ich ließ die Studierenden
was die Zahl der Toten betrifft
in den drei Jahren der Großen Hungersnot
vom Großen Sprung nach vorn.
Es kamen viele verschiedene
Von über 40 Millionen
bis 30 Millionen
bis 20 Millionen
bis 10 Millionen
bis ganz normal
bis nicht daran rühren
bis das sei eine Verschwörung
des amerikanischen Imperialismus.
Ich mach mir Sorgen
vielleicht werden
meine Studenten und ich
eines Tages
auch eine solche

Übersetzt von MW am 5. Mai 2019




三月 27, 2019

Zhao Siyun

Vorname Digua, Süßkartoffel.
Familienname Liän, aus Yuncheng in Shandong.
Seine Mutter bekam vor Hunger drei Jahre keine Periode.
1962 erst nach einer reichen Süßkartoffelernte
wurde etwas aus ihm.

Digua hätte auch noch drei jüngere Geschwister gehabt.
Vor Angst, dass sie sie nicht aufziehen kann,
hat seine Mutter sie vor der Geburt totgemacht.
Beim ersten hat sie sich auf eine Wassertonne gelegt und es totgedrückt.
Beim zweiten hat sie sich auf einen Getreidebehälter gepresst und es totgedrückt.
Beim dritten hat sie sich über die Bettkannte gelegt und es totgedrückt.

Übersetzt von MW im März 2019



FAMINE – 庞琼珍

一月 31, 2019

Pang Qiongzhen

After finishing
rotten sweet potatoes
peanut shells
grain husks
grass roots

Still famished,
he follows
the grown-ups,
looking for anything to fill his belly.

Between rocks
he scrapes out
white clay,
it feels soft
on his tongue.

In his belly,
the clay becomes hard as rocks;
if you want to live
it has to be scraped
out of your guts.

60 years later
my uncle says on his sickbed,
that stuff was called Guanyin soil.
Like clay to play for children,
like plasticine.


11/15/18 first draft
1/4/19 final text

Translated by MW in January 2019




一月 25, 2019

Photo by Liu Xia



20 years ago I wrote my first Chinese poem.
It was in Chongqing. “Wanbao, wanbao!”
That’s what they cry, all over China. Every afternoon.
“Evening news, evening news!”
Evening paper, every town has one.
Some have morning papers, those are called Zaobao,
most of them.
“Get your evening paper!”
Anyway, “wanbao, wanbao!”
could mean late retribution. Bào, what comes back, gets back,
a report. Wan, late. Zao, early.

“Wanbao, wanbao!”
Chongqing was the wartime capital.
Jiefang bei, liberation monument, is the city center.
It’s not from 1945 or 1949,
it’s from the 1930s or so.
Most people don’t know exactly.
Emancipation column. One of my students called it that.
Kang Di, think it was her.
Emancipation in German means women’s lib.
I was teaching German.
Women’s Liberation Monument.
Women’s Rights Monument.
She didn’t know emancipation means many things.
Didn’t want to correct her.
Another essay was about marriage.
Were they really so conservative, our elders,
when they married a stranger,
when they slept with a stranger they had never seen before?
Good question.
Good essays, especially the girls, the young women.

“Wanbao, wanbao!”
In Beijing it sounded more like “wanbo!”, although Beijing supposedly
is where Mandarin comes from.
“Wanbao, wanbao!”
Chongqing is a hilly city. No bicycles. What did they do, back in the 1960s,
1970s, ’80s, when no-one had a car?
They had porters, for the steep slopes with the stairs,
I guess they’re still there.
“Bang-bang”, people for hire.
They bang on their tools, bang their tools together.
Bang-bang are men, but there are women porters.
Hong Ying’s mother carried sand, rocks and gravel.
Daughter of Hunger, her most famous book.
Daughter of the River in English, it was a bestseller.
Hungry Daughter, Ji’e de nü’er.
That’s right, they have a “ü”, just like in German,
and like in Turkish. Ürümqi, city in China,
nowadays governed like North Korea.
Many re-education camps. They had prisons in Chongqing,
Liao Yiwu was in there,
another famous writer from China.
Didn’t know him then. But Chongqing is about war and imprisonment.
Lieshimu, that’s the address
of our university. We taught German and English.
Two universities, one foreign languages,
the other law and police. Law and politics. Yes, they are not separated.

“Wanbao, wanbao!” No zaobao in Chongqing,
although I’m not sure now.
Lie-shi-mu, Martyr’s Grave.
Geleshan, Gele Mountain, right behind our college,
other side of the train tracks.
Someone was murdered there, some gambling debt.
Students died, one or two every few months.
Nice walks on Geleshan, very peaceful, really.
“Wanbao, wanbao!” Every city in China.
Nowadays people have cell phones,
but there are printed newspapers and magazines.
And printed books, there is no crisis.

“Wanbao, wanbao!” Late reports, late reports.
From the guns. Or whatever.
Karma. Shan means good, doing good.
A Buddhist word. Shan you shanbao,
doing good has good returns.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
But teachers believe it, teachers and parents,
again and again, otherwise you go crazy.

They went crazy too, war and famine,
all the way till 1961, ’62. When Hong Ying was born.
No, also 1969,
Cultural Revolution, like civil war.
Shan you shan-bao,
good deeds, good returns.
“Shan you shanbao, e you e-bao.”
E like in Urgh! Like something disgusting, that’s what it means.
Ur yow ur-pow, something like that. But more like b.
Eh yow e-bao. Yes, “e” like ur. “You” like yo-uw.
Shàn you shànbào, è you èbao.
Do good for good returns, do bad stuff for bad returns.
Not that it doesn’t come back, time isn’t ripe.
That’s how it goes on.

You throw the boomerang, boomerang doesn’t come back,
they tell you wait, it’ll come back.
And so I wrote a Buddhist newspaper poem.
Bu shì bu bào, shíhou wei dào.
Wei like in Ai Weiwei, “ei” like in Beijing.
Wei means not yet, that’s his name. Really.
“Wei” like the future.
His father was the most famous Communist poet
of the People’s Republic. Imprisoned in the 1930s,
maybe in Chongqing. Then again under Mao.
Exiled to Xinjiang, North Korea today, re-education camps.
Desert, somewhere between Dunhuang and Ürümqi,
what was the town? It’s a big city now.
Ai Weiwei grew up in a hole in the ground, with his brother.
They are both artists. Anyway, where was I?

Bu shì bu bào, shíhou wei dào.
Not that it doesn’t come back, time isn’t ripe.
Emancipation monument.
MLK day, I have a dream.
They had to memorize the whole speech,
in schools in China, 1970s.
Maybe earlier too, maybe till now.
Good deeds, good returns.
Bad deeds, bad returns.
The Chinese Dream.
Not that it doesn’t come back.
Zao you zaobao, wan you wanbao.
Morning has morning papers, evening has evening news.
Early deeds, early returns.
Late deeds, late returns.
Late returns after gambling.
Famous party secretary, famous police chief,
they are in prison now. Or one is dead?
Killed a British guy, now they imprison Canadians.
Anyway, my poem.

Wanbao, wanbao!
Wanbao, wanbao!

Zao you zaobao,
wan you wanbao.

Bushi bu bao, shihou wei dao.

Actually the saying goes on, the Buddhist Karma.
Once time is ripe, everything comes back.
You don’t need to say that. People know.



MW January 2019


Artwork by Liu Xia


Photos by Liu Xia



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